Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is set to be an assistant on the USA Men’s Basketball Team for the Summer Olympics from July 23 through Aug. 8 in Tokyo, reuniting with Nets star Kevin Durant — a two-time NBA Finals MVP (2017-18) during a three-year run at Golden State (2017-19).
After watching Durant return from his June 2019 ruptured right Achilles throughout the 2020-21 season, which ended last Saturday with a seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series loss against the Milwaukee Bucks in which he posted a pair of near-50-point performances while averaging 35.5 points and 10.6 rebounds over 42.7 minutes, Kerr did not mince words when asked about comparing Durant to former Chicago Bulls teammate and all-time great Michael Jordan.
“I think he’s more gifted, I really do,” Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Raj Mathai of Durant versus Jordan, whom he played alongside as a guard with the Bulls from 1994-98. “That’s saying something, but Kevin is a different … entirely different breed. He’s 6-11 with guard skills, unlimited 3-point range, passing, shot-blocking — his shot-blocking at the rim, it’s just stunning. Watching him this year was really, really gratifying to see.
“You think about what he did for this organization, not only helping us win titles but to come back and try to play through injuries and then suffer the devastating Achilles injury, we all just wanted to see Kevin healthy and to see him in the playoffs playing at the level he reached, it was really, really gratifying for all of us.”
Durant sat out the 2019-20 season and battled a hamstring injury throughout his 2020-21 return, in which he averaged 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists over 33.1 minutes while starting 32 of 35 games. As for the NBA playoffs, including a five-game first-round series win over the Boston Celtics, Durant posted a 34.3-point average with 9.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 40.4 minutes over 12 games.
He put the Nets on his back June 15 with 49 points on 16-of-23 shooting, 17 rebounds and 10 assists in all 48 minutes of a 114-108 Game 5 win over the Bucks. Durant nearly did the same this past Saturday, scoring 48 points on 17-of-36 shooting with nine rebounds and six assists in all 53 minutes of a 115-111 Game 7 loss to Milwaukee.