Golden State Warriors All-Star forward Kevin Durant is nearing his return. He has already been seen participating in shooting drills with greater movement. On Wednesday, the Warriors announced that Durant could be cleared to return to the court before the end of the regular season.
Kevin Durant headed to the locker room after suffering an apparent knee injury on this play: pic.twitter.com/Op5iFizNrs
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) March 1, 2017
Durant suffered the knee injury back in the early minutes of a February 28th game against the Washington Wizards in Durant’s hometown of Washington, DC. After initially fearing the worst, the team’s concern shifted to optimism, and the Warriors have remained optimistic that Durant could return before the end of the season.
In a statement issued by the team, it was announced that Durant has “made very good progress” in his recovery. “His eventual return to contact drills and practice will be predicated upon his progress to the increased intensity of his workouts.” (via ESPN.com)
The process for players recovering from serious leg injuries generally involves slowly increasing how much movement they can handle without risking re-injuring anything, or worse, creating a new injury. It typically begins with shooting the basketball from a chair, then standing still, to eventually shooting jump shots and moving. Movement progresses from non-contact drills, to 1-on-1, then 3-on-3, and finally 5-on-5, and the ability to complete a full practice without any setbacks.
Kevin Durant said he’s in good spirits despite knee injury: ‘I got a boo-boo playing basketball. It is what it is, man’ pic.twitter.com/kGcI8UHh7F
— KNBR (@KNBR) March 9, 2017
Durant was the leading scorer for the Warriors before his injury. The Warriors quickly signed veteran forward Matt Barnes, who was previously waived by the Sacramento Kings, to help fill the void left at Durant’s position. Barnes has been a nice addition in the wake of the Durant injury so far, but he still does not do a lot to help alleviate the loss of their superstar player.
— TurnerSportsPR (@TurnerSportsPR) March 3, 2017
After initially struggling to find their new rhythm following Durant’s injuries, Golden State is finally seeing more success as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have seemingly returned to their pre-Durant forms. The Warriors are currently riding an 8-game win streak following their most recent victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night. However, despite the recent success the team has been having, it is clear that they will need Durant once the postseason arrives, as there is a lot of stiff competition in the west aiming to knock the Warriors off the throne.
According to the Warriors, Durant will be evaluated again after 7-10 days, and if he is cleared to returned, he will most likely be placed on a minutes restriction. If Durant continues to progress on his current track, then that would likely put a possible return somewhere within the final three games of the regular season. Obviously, the Warriors would probably love to have their whole starting lineup intact and playing together again before the regular season ends, but it still remains to be seen whether or not this will happen.