Kevin Durant’s injury could threaten his elite status in the NBA, but in order to make it back to where he left off, he should consult the Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Conley. But why?
As the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant ruptured his Achilles in a Game 5 loss to the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals, the sentiment thus far is that he will miss all of next season due to the healing and recovery process. With such a significant injury, it will take a lot of effort in order to play again at a high level. For this, he should confide in the Memphis Grizzlies‘ Mike Conley.
For those that may not know or have forgotten, Conley has had reoccurring issues with his left Achilles tendon. It hampered him in the 2017 postseason and eventually led to the Grizzlies shutting him down just 12 games into the 2017-18 NBA season so that he could achieve a full recovery.
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This had the entire Memphis Grizzlies fan base worried, and rightfully so. Conley is arguably the most loved player in the franchise’s history. Plus, he had just signed a monumental five-year, $153 million max contract in the summer of 2016. From a business perspective, this was a lot of cash going to waste. This felt like a forced rebuild, but surprisingly enough, that was not the case for the Grizzlies. They held off pressing the rebuild button for another year after Conley was shut down.
With all odds against him, Conley put in the hard work and effort to not only return to game shape, but to produce at a high level. From an individual standpoint, he produced a season which ranks at the very top of the 12 he has endured thus far in the NBA.
On 43.8% shooting (including 36.4% from beyond the arc), Conley notched a career-high 21.1 points to go with 3.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. 2018-19 was also his second-most efficient season thus far. Though the Memphis Grizzlies earned just 33 victories in the 2018-19 season, his clutch gene in fourth quarters and overtimes allowed Memphis to prevail over a handful of playoff-bound opponents. This only increased the legend of the 31-year-old Conley in the 901.
The Grizzlies are more than familiar with Achilles injuries. It is not just Conley that has had issues with this. Mario Chalmers was playing the best basketball of his NBA career following a trade to Memphis in late-2015. However, just as he had won the hearts of the Grizzlies’ fan base, he suffered a non-contact Achilles injury — a rupture, just like Durant. Chalmers was never the same after that incident, though he went on to play in one more season once clearance to play was gained.
Chalmers’ decline falls in line with what is typically expected when a professional athlete sustains a significant injury. More times than not, they are not the same player. Careers can be cut short. Major dollars can be lost. The Job that Conley did in order to make a comeback in such impressive fashion deserves real appreciation. He got better, which is the opposite of what was expected to happen with his productivity.
You hate to see injuries, especially significant ones such as ACL tears and Achilles ruptures, in professional sports. Fans across the NBA hate it when these happen to the game’s biggest stars, which is exactly what the league is feeling with Durant.
The expectation for Durant is that he will almost certainly return to action in the NBA again, but the real unknown is what type and how effective of a player he will be once he makes a return. For that very reason, he should seriously think about taking advice from the Memphis Grizzlies’ Conley because the 12-year veteran has been in Durant’s shoes before, yet he overcame odds against him to produce his best individual season. This means that there is hope for Durant and his fans across the globe.