The return of one of the NBA's most formidable scoring threats, the league Most Valuable Player in 2014 and a two-time NBA Finals MVP with the Golden State Warriors – has sparked excitement among fans and pundits are eager to see Durant at top form and curious as to how he will mesh with star teammate Kyrie Irving, AFP reported.
They won't have to wait long for a first look, with the Nets hosting the Warriors in the first game of the season today.
Durant insisted the clash is no grudge match, calling it "just a regular game."
In this year's abbreviated preseason – shortened as the league returns to action barely two months after the Lakers capped the pandemic-disrupted 2019-20 campaign with a 17th championship – Durant has offered tantalizing glimpses of his old form.
But the 10-time All-Star said after a 25-point performance in a preseason victory over the Boston Celtics that he expects to continue to improve.
"I was out for 18 months not playing an NBA game, not playing against that physicality, the speed of the game," Durant said. "So it's going to take me some time to get my feet up under me, get my legs right.
“Having a team like we have, those guys support me every time I step on the floor, try to put me in great positions to be successful, and we're just playing off of each other,” Durant said. "So if we continue to do that, this will be a smooth ride for me as I get back into the swing of things."
Durant was injured in game five of the 2019 NBA Finals, opted for free agency and signed a four-year deal with the Nets not long after having surgery.
He watched the Nets from the bench throughout last season, their fortunes faltering further after a right shoulder injury ruled Irving out for the second half of the season.
New Nets coach Steve Nash, a two-time NBA MVP embarking on his first season as a head coach, said he'll be keeping a close eye on both as the season unfolds.
"There's been such a layoff for both of them," Nash said during training camp. "In particular, Kevin coming off one of the toughest injuries to deal with as a basketball player.
"We have to be careful with him and his adaptation process back into the game."
But Durant, 32, said the toll of a dozen NBA seasons is likely affecting him more now than the injury.
"Even if I didn't have an Achilles I probably wouldn't be 100 percent, you know," he said during training camp. "So the wear and tear over time, I guess, but I feel solid."