Doctor, trainer explain how Kevin Durant will be affected by Achilles injury

Dalton Johnson
NBC Sports BayArea

Doctor, trainer explain how Kevin Durant will be affected by Achilles injury originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com

He drains 3-pointers. He soars for slam dunks. He crosses you up. And he swats your shot. 

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Kevin Durant can do it all. The question now is, will he still be able to do it all once he returns from a ruptured right Achilles tendon? 

"I think you're going to likely see at least a step back," Jeff Stotts, a certified athletic trainer who analyzes injury trends at InStreetClothes.com, told Bleacher Report's Howard Beck. "At least, that's what the studies show-that there is going to be a dip in productivity."

The Warriors star forward suffered the injury after playing just under 12 minutes in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The injury occurred over a month after Durant sustaining a strained right calf. Prior to the injuries, KD was performing like the best basketball player on the planet. 

Durant played in 78 of the Warriors' 82 regular-season games, where he averaged 26 points, 6.4 rebounds and a career-high 5.9 assists per game. He was even better in the playoffs. Including the two games he got hurt in, Durant averaged 32.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in the playoffs while shooting over 50 percent from the field, over 40 percent from 3-point range and over 90 percent from the free throw line. 

He was simply spectacular. Will we ever see that version again? 

"It's hard to return to an elite level of play following that type of injury," Stotts said, "especially in basketball, with the constant, sudden, start-stop jumping motion that the calf and the Achilles are critical and vital to."

Instead of driving to the hole, dribbling to find his spot for a mid-range jump shot and leaping for rebounds, Durant might turn into more of a spot-up shooter. He did make all three of his 3-point attempts in his first game back from his calf strain before injuring his Achilles. 

It's likely he'll have to play less regular-season games for the rest of his career, too. 

"He's not going to be an 82-game-a-year guy," a doctor working for another NBA team outside of the Warriors told Beck. "I always say that they can be the same player in smaller doses. So, fewer minutes, fewer games. You will see flashes. The sustained greatness is really, really tough.

"[Durant] can still be a really, really great player. But it's going to be in 28 minutes, and it's going to be not in back-to-backs. And it's going to be saving himself for the playoffs."

Durant will miss the entire 2019-20 season while rehabbing. He turns 31 in September and will be 32 when we're first expected to see him back on a basketball court. If that will be at Chase Center as a Warrior is the great unknown

[RELATED: Why Warriors won't walk away from Klay, KD despite injuries]

Despite his injury, the Warriors are expected to still offer Druant a max contract worth $221 million over five seasons when he becomes a free agent on June 30. Whether he's a Warrior or not, however, he'll likely look different as a player. 

When Durant announced his successful Achilles surgery, he said on Instagram, "It's going to be a journey but I'm built for this. I'm a hooper." There's no doubt Durant will hoop again, no matter what version of himself we see.

Sadly, he might not be the same superstar.

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