Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant continues to write the next chapter of his legacy with Brooklyn Nets

At 33, Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant is still at the top of his game.

Entering the 2021-22 season - his 14th in the NBA - Durant ranked first on the latest installment of NBA.com's player rankings, coming in ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James.

Durant landing at the top of this list shouldn't come as much of a surprise after he nearly willed Brooklyn to the Eastern Conference Finals with playoff averages of 34.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.5 steals over 12 games, including one of the most legendary playoff performances in the history of the NBA.

49 points. 17 rebounds. 10 assists.

It was an experience.

That Durant was drafted over 14 years ago still feels somewhat hard to believe, but it's a reminder that he's been at the top of the league for some time now. For perspective, KD captured the first of his four scoring titles over a decade ago in 2010.

There are countless things to marvel at when discussing Durant, but something that cannot be overstated is the way in which his game continues to age gracefully, even after suffering an Achilles injury in the 2019 NBA Finals and missing the entirety of the 2019-20 season.

The Nets clearly feel the same, as they signed Durant to a maximum contract extension that will keep him in Brooklyn through at least the 2025-26 season, which would mark his 18th in the league. When asked about his long-term commitment to the franchise, Durant said "I just wanted to be here and it was the perfect timing for me to do so. It was good to get it done. We continue to keep working from here."

As the work continues, it begs the question of what's next for Durant and his team.

Durant, along with James Harden and Kyrie Irving, form one of the most terrifying trios in the 75-year history of the NBA. Surrounding them is a supporting cast that blends veterans and youth, giving Brooklyn arguably the deepest team in the NBA.

With that much talent, it's inevitably championship or bust for this Nets team - both for the 2021-22 season and the years to come.

It's no secret that KD knows a thing or two about reaching the NBA's mountaintops, as he advanced to the NBA Finals in 2012 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, earned MVP honours in 2014 and won the ultimate prize in back-to-back years with the Golden State Warriors, also taking home Finals MVP honours in 2017 and 2018.

As he begins his second season on the floor with the Nets, Durant has a unique opportunity to continue to write his Hall of Fame story to where he is remembered for his time in Brooklyn before anything else. It's a unique reality for a number of all-time greats like KD and LeBron, who have racked up countless accolades for numerous franchises.

So what's next?

Say what you want about Durant's time in The Bay, but you'll never erase the fact that he was the Finals MVP of the squads that ultimately went 2-for-3 in their pursuit of multiple NBA titles. Still, there are a number of narratives that attempt to minimize KD's greatness during that time, which admittedly open the door for him to write this chapter in Brooklyn that would result in him forever being remembered as a Net.

Before anything else, it starts with winning.

Likely playing alongside Harden and Irving for the foreseeable future means that KD is probably done winning scoring titles, but with four of those already under his belt, the focus is on NBA titles and nothing else. With that expectation comes the journey towards achievement, and Durant's journey last season was filled with a number of signature moments.

Following the epic experience Durant gifted fans with in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, he delivered a 32-point double-double followed by a historic 48-point Game 7 performance in which the Nets were literally inches away from advancing to the next round.

To bring things full circle, the fact that both Durant and the team he plays for are still steadily improving, the journey towards a potential NBA title in 2022 should be full of even more supernova performances in which Durant maintains his position atop the league.

Should it all result in Durant doing his part to lead Brooklyn to its first-ever NBA title, it'll be pretty clear how we'll all remember him.

The work continues from here.

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