On March 11, 2020 the NBA season was set to a hault due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NBA now has a return date for the season which is set for July 31. This would be over one year since Durant tore his Achilles and four months since Kyrie hurt his shoulder. If the NBA season were to be played on time, Durant would have sat out the entire season to rehab fully for the 2020-2021 season. The NBA’s current plan is to run a 22-team tournament which would set the Nets as a seven seed. In this tournament, there will be a single elimination tournament to determine who will be the 8th team in. As one can see, this would give the Nets a bye for the first round of the tournament. This gives the Nets plenty of time to determine if they should play or rest their star players. In this article we will discuss the risks and rewards of Durant and Irving returning to the court.
It takes a normal person up to 6 months to return to normal activity from an Achilles tear. One can assume that this would take an athlete like Kevin Durant anywhere from 9-12 months. When the NBA returns it will have been over a year, so it is fair to assume he will be close to full strength. The Nets would be a serious contender as soon as Kevin Durant steps on the floor. However, with the money he is risking, would it be worth it for him to risk another injury to compete this season when the Nets should be contenders next season as well? That is the question that Durant should be asking himself. We have seen many great athletes come back from an injury too soon which ultimately derailed their career. To go against this, Durant should be in the best shape of his life and the chances of one re-rupturing their Achilles is from 1.7-5.6%. For an athlete built like Durant, this percentage is probably closer to the extreme. Even at 5.6% the chances of this are extremely low.
As much as the Nets probably want Durant to play as soon as possible, I personally believe their target date is still the beginning of next season. They are going to be extremely cautious with him and I will be extremely surprised if he were to play when the season resumes. The reward just doesn’t add up to the absurd amount of risk. If Durant were to return and then get injured, this could set the franchise back many years.
The main question is should Kyrie, who was plagued with injuries this past season, return to play even with Durant out? It became evident that the Nets are not title contenders without Durant. Kyrie has not had the greatest injury history and risking another one with a high chance of being knocked out first round doesn’t seem very smart. However, Kyrie should be fully healthy and I’m sure he is eager to play basketball. Having Kyrie on the court could be the difference between the Nets getting swept and having a shot at making it too the next round.
In conclusion, I don’t think it would be the smartest move for the Nets to rush back either Kyrie or Durant for the 2020 playoffs. They just have so much to lose and the pros do not even come close to outweighing the cons. They could lose them for next season when they are supposed to be title contenders, all to play in a series they most likely won’t win if they aren’t 100%. The Nets should play the waiting game when it comes to their star players and bringing them back on the court post-injury.