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Through the Lens: Kevin Durant Powers Through Week 1

Through five games, KD is second in the NBA with 29.8 points per game while averaging 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists

Five games into the 2021-21 season, Kevin Durant is second in the NBA in scoring with 29.8 points per game while shooting 54.8 percent. He’s also averaging 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists.

Durant opened up his 14th NBA season with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks while making 13-of-25 shots. “I feel like we all want to reach perfection out there and I know that we'll never get to that point,” said Durant after the 127-104 loss to Milwaukee, “but it's good to strive towards it and everybody is you know, analyzing themselves analyzing their games and I'm sure a few possessions guys look back on tonight and want to have those back but it's just the nature of the game, nature of competitiveness but early on in my career I think that you know, every game felt like a playoff type game to me.”

Before the Nets and Bucks tipped off the season, Durant and James Harden were among the first group of 25 players included in the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team, rolled out over three nights during the season’s opening week. “It means a lot,” said Durant. “It means everything to be honest. You want to leave your mark in this league on the game of basketball itself. To be amongst the greatest that this game has ever seen, just to be in that same company is pretty sweet. As a kid, I seen the 50th anniversary and always dreamt of having one of those jackets on and being amongst that group and being in that brotherhood, so it feels good to be a part of it now.”

The first week of the season has been full of experimentation for the Nets, who have nine new players on their 17-man roster including two-ways. “It's good for guys who wasn't expecting to play bigger roles to step into those roles and see who we are, you know? This is the situation we were in, and I think a lot of guys have taken advantage of it and are looking forward to stepping up their game,” said Durant. “For James and myself, it feels like each game may be different and we may have to do different things than we thought coming into the season. But it's all good. It’s always gonna help us get better.”

Durant put up his 13th triple-double against the Sixers, with 29 points, 15 rebounds, and 12 assists. “Every game is different,” said Durant. “We all know some of these contending teams like physical play defensively, they’re so versatile defensively. So going into the game, I’ve got to just be prepared to do anything. It might not be my night scoring, it might not be my night assisting, so I’ve just got to be ready to do anything. At the offensive end, I think I started scoring for us. But my role tonight was more getting into the paint, making plays, rebounding and knocking down shots if I had them.”

The Nets came back from an early 16-point deficit and closed the game on a 16-1 run for a 114-109 win in Philadelphia. “It was a great team win for us,” said Durant. “Everybody came and stepped it up defensively. LaMarcus was incredible for us tonight. I’m so happy that he’s got his legs up under him and he’s getting more comfortable. We’ve got to keep building on this and see where we can go.”

In Brooklyn’s home opener on Sunday, Durant poured in 38 points while making 17-of-24 shots. “Everybody here is confident in what they do,” said Durant after the 111-95 loss. “We just got to play. It is matter of us coming together and figuring out which way we need to play on both ends of the floor and that is just a matter of it being early in the season and us figuring out these lineups. The good part about it is we have a game tomorrow.”

Back-to-back at Barclays Center. Back at work after Sunday’s loss to Charlotte, Durant gets shots up before the Nets blitzed the Washington Wizards, rolling out to a 25-point lead on the way to a 104-90 win. “I liked that when we didn’t make shots to start the second half we still got stops,” said Durant. “We still showed them bodies. We still were rotating for each other and we made good plays. This team was playing with confidence and I think we came in here on the second night of a back to back and imposed our will the whole game.”

Against the Wizards, Durant went for 25 points with eight rebounds and four assists. By the end of the second quarter, M-V-P chants were raining down from the stands at Barclays Center. “It’s still a balance I’m trying to learn how to play fast and when to slow down,” said Durant. “I think early in my career teams would send doubles as soon as I catch the ball in the post, mid-post, pick and roll, so I would always just think, all right, I’ve got to score quick and my coaches would always tell me that. Then as my career got to Golden State, got here, you’ve got more penetrators on the team, now I can slow down a bit. It’s not as clogged up and you’ve got shooters everywhere so I’m still trying to find a balance each game, each possession. When should I go fast, when should I take my time. But that’s the beauty of our game.”

After the win over the Wizards, Durant connected with his mother, Wanda, at courtside.

With 25 points and 11 rebounds against Miami, Durant became only the second Net to have scored at least 25 points in the season’s first five games after Vince Carter’s string of six straight in 2006-07. It was Durant’s third double-double in five games. “Kevin's taken more of a leadership role with the ball in his hands, trying to facilitate,” said Nash. “He's capable of that for sure and he's found a nice balance between still leading us in scoring and also facilitating, looking for teammates. For such a gifted, historic scorer, he really is an unselfish player. So, I think his mind, in his heart, he'd be quite happy to pass the ball all night if it was successful, and I think he shoots more when I think he feels he needs it. So, he is an unselfish player inside, but when you're given those gifts, you've gotta shoot the ball and score the ball based on a nice balance between the two.”

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