KD’s historic shot-making was fueling the Nets — can they overcome his injury?

  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus series
  • Formerly a consultant with the Indiana Pacers
  • Developed WARP rating and SCHOENE system

Can the Brooklyn Nets find another winning formula in Kevin Durant’s absence?

Since a 6-9 start, the Nets have been the hottest team in the NBA, going 21-4 with a season-long 12-game winning streak to move into second place in the Eastern Conference, just a game back of the Boston Celtics for the league’s best record.

That stretch has come with Durant playing all but one game this season, a surprising road win over the Indiana Pacers without any of the team’s usual starters seeing action on the second night of a back-to-back set.

Now, with Durant expected to be sidelined about a month according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski after being diagnosed with an MCL sprain in his right knee, Brooklyn must find a way to stay in the hunt for a top-three seed in the East without Durant for an extended period.

A closer look at how the Nets have gotten to this point reveals how challenging that assignment might be. Durant’s fingerprints are all over Brooklyn’s torrid recent stretch of play.

Brooklyn’s surge had relied on KD’s masterful shot-making …

Remarkably, Brooklyn has the league’s best offensive rating since Nov. 17 — the start of that 21-4 stretch — despite ranking in the bottom 10 of three of the four factors on offense. Per NBA Advanced Stats, the Nets are last in free throw attempt rate in that span, 29th of 30 in offensive rebound percentage and 24th in turnover rate.

It hasn’t mattered.

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