Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash drew much criticism in last season's playoffs for how he managed Kevin Durant's minutes in big games. Durant played every single second of more than one playoff game in their series against the Bucks, a move that drew much praise on KD's part. However, the move also left fans and media wondering if Steve Nash possibly cost his team a championship by refusing to give his superstar some time to breathe.
In 19 games for the Nets this season, Durant has averaged 35.6 minutes per game. For context, the vast majority of Brooklyn's opponents have been teams below .500, therefore allowing Durant to play a comfortable amount of minutes while still doing his part to ensure the Nets beat the teams that they're supposed to. However, Durant's minutes have started to increase, particularly in games against Cleveland and New York, two teams you don't want to expend Durant's precious basketball miles beating. Steve Nash was asked for his thoughts on KD playing heavy minutes, and the response he offered up tells us a lot about Nash's coaching experience.
"I don't know what options we have other than to play him less and lose more."
Steve Nash, Matt Brooks Twitter
One would hope that Nash is now a year wiser after being eliminated in the conference semifinals despite a Herculean effort from Durant. Milwaukee won the NBA title, but Brooklyn had more than enough firepower to put the Bucks away in their series. Instead, the Nets fizzled out because of roster mismanagement. Nash's lack of creativity in terms of rotations is a warning sign for Nets fans coming into the more grueling parts of the season. If Durant has to play this many hard minutes in the regular season, then history tells us that he will eventually run out of steam. James Harden or Kyrie Irving will have to pick up the slack in the playoffs, something we have yet to see from either one of Brookyln's superstar guards consistently.
The Nets acquired Patty Mills and Paul Millsap in the offseason, two veterans who can help alleviate Durant and Harden of some of the scoring responsibilities. Harden is fully healthy, so is Blake Griffin and a whole roster of talented, young NBA players. Yet, Nash's solution to everything is just to play Kevin Durant more, which seems rather elementary for a person of Nash's basketball capacity. If Brooklyn wants to compete for a title, they will need a coach who can trust his roster and make adjustments to put all his players in a position to succeed. They certainly do not need a star that is just going to rely on a big three to keep his career afloat.