KEVIN DURANT WILL LEAD THE NBA IN SCORING
Kevin Durant had a better rookie year than LeBron James.
Forget the numbers — where KD’s 20.3 points a night nearly matched Kid LeBron’s 20.9, where his 43 percent shooting from the field topped LeBron’s 41, where his 2.9 turnovers were better than LeBron’s 3.4 per game — and focus on all that Durant had going against him in his intro to the NBA.
With the Seattle Supersonics playing the entire year under the cloud of eventual relocation, Durant was asked to carry a franchise for which Disarray wasn’t even the word; it was full-on Disaster. The 19-year-old had a D-League supporting cast, a front office pulling a Major League-style tank job, a coach who hadn’t been in charge of an NBA game since Sprewell choked him out, and he was playing in front of a wounded fan base that gave Sonics home games a funereal atmosphere.
All that, and Durant still dropped 27 points on Shawn Marion in his second pro game; he still gave the Spurs and Lakers 25 apiece in back-to-back games in November, then hit for another 25 against the Celtics four weeks later; he still went for 30 in his first appearance at Madison Square Garden; he still scored 26 in the Sonics’ best showing of the year, a home win over the Spurs that snapped a 14-game losing streak; he still hung 37 on the Nuggets in a NBA Live 95 shootout where both teams combined for 298 points; he still nailed a 30-foot game-winner in Atlanta and stuck another game-winner over the Mavs in the Sonics’ last game at KeyArena; he still dropped 42 points in the regular season finale against Golden State. When other rookies hit the wall, Durant got better — he shot 52 percent from the field for the month of March, and 46 percent in April while averaging 24 points a night. And you’re trying to tell me Al Horford should have been Rookie of the Year?
This year, without all the bullshit and an actual future in front of him in Oklahoma City, Durant will flourish. He’s a year older, a year stronger, and his franchise is no longer a mess. Yes, the Thunder will still be among one of the worst teams in the League, but at least they’re trying to get better, and Durant will have the green light throughout the process. Over the summer KD added his name to D.C. playground lore when he posted 62 points in a Goodman League game at the legendary Barry Farms courts, a place that is a comfort zone for him. Seattle was never a comfort zone for Durant. Once OKC becomes that place, he’ll be a killer.
As a Seattle native and a Sonics fan, I can’t root for the Thunder. But I can pull for Kevin Durant to become the superstar he was supposed to become in my city, even if I want his squad to go 0-82.
The New “Best Season Ever”
1. Chris Paul will win MVP…
2. …but Paul Pierce will prove he’s the best player in the world
3. The Clippers are alive
4. Ron Artest will get some MVP votes
5. Vince Carter will give a damn
6. The return of rivalries
7. The NBA has never had so much young talent
8. You have to keep an eye on the Euroleague
9. Dwyane Wade is back