Kevin Durant is favored by many to win his second NBA MVP award this season. He is the frontman for a Brooklyn Nets team that is Las Vegas’ choice to capture their first championship. The Nets won two titles in the old American Basketball Association but are 0-for-54 seasons since joining the NBA. If Durant can carry Brooklyn to the promised land, will it be his first ring?
Durant’s resume is solid. He’s a nine-time All-NBA performer with four scoring championships. Durant also captured MVP honors in 2013–14 while he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder. That team fell short of a title when Oklahoma City lost to the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
Kevin Durant played in an NBA Finals with the Thunder
In the lockout-shortened 2011–12 season, Kevin Durant won his third consecutive scoring crown. Then he led the Thunder to a first-round sweep of the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks and a five-game triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round.
Facing the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, Oklahoma City lost the first two games of the series on the road before roaring back with four consecutive victories. That got the franchise to its first NBA Finals in 16 years and its first since leaving Seattle for OKC in 2008.
Durant scored 36 points, and the Thunder struck first against the Miami Heat in the Finals. But that was all. Miami won the next four games, and the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh Big Three had its first championship.
Oklahoma City also reached the conference finals in 2011, losing to Dallas. There was one more close call in 2016. The Thunder led the defending champion Golden State Warriors 3–1 in the Western Conference Finals. But Golden State won the last three games, and Durant made a decision that rocked the NBA.
Did you know Durant left the Thunder for the Warriors in 2016?
Yes, that was sarcasm. Kevin Durant rocked the NBA in July 2016 when he left Oklahoma City for the Warriors. But the move paid off.
Durant won two championships with Golden State, earning NBA Finals MVP honors both times. So while the Nets are looking for their first NBA title, Durant is seeking his third ring.
He also played in another Finals with the Warriors. His Achilles’ tendon injury in Game 5 of the 2019 Finals helped pave the way for the Toronto Raptors to capture their first championship. Durant left for Brooklyn after the season.
After missing the 2019–20 season recovering from the injury, KD returned last season and averaged 26.9 points per game in 35 games for the Nets. However, he missed more than half the regular season with various ailments, most significantly a thigh bruise that sidelined him for all but one game from Feb. 6-April 5.
But he had a monster postseason, averaging 34.3 points in 12 games. Even with Kyrie Irving and James Harden sidelined for large chunks of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks, Durant dragged Brooklyn into overtime of Game 7 before the Nets fell.
Kevin Durant owns half the rings on the Brooklyn roster
With his two championships in Golden State, Kevin Durant has two of the four rings held by players on the current roster for the Nets.
Patty Mills signed with the team during the offseason, bringing the ring he won with the Spurs in 2014. While Irving also has a championship that he picked up in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he’s only technically on the roster. He’s not with the team until the resolution of his vaccination status.
Sharpshooter Joe Harris also spent time in Cleveland that season, but was traded in early January, long before the playoff run. Harden is the only other player on the roster with Finals appearance. He was Durant’s teammate with the Thunder back in 2012.
Two members of Brooklyn’s coaching staff were part of championship teams, as well. Player development coach Tiago Splitter was the starting center for San Antonio in 2014, and lead assistant Jacque Vaughn was part of the Spurs’ title team back in 2007.
There is championship experience in Brooklyn, led by the two championships won by Kevin Durant in 2017 and 2018. If the oddsmakers know their stuff, he’ll have a say in who wins in 2022, as well.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.