Monday, October 20, 2008

Durable Durant (We Hope), The Cornerstone

The starting shooting guard for the Thunder this season should come as no surprise to anyone. Kevin Durant was the SuperSonics' top player from last season and the NBA's Rookie of the Year. He averaged 20.3 points per game shooting 43.0% from the field and 87.3% from the line. His field goal percentage increased to 47.6% post-All Start game and, in turn, his average points increased to 21.8. Durant appeared in 80 of Seattle's 82 games last season tying him with Jeff Green for most appearances.

OKC has exercised their option on Durant for the 2009-10 season (I'm sure they thought long and hard about that one ... not). Durant is the star of the team, and expect that Durant, Westbrook, and Green will be the core that the team is built around for the future.

Durant has played in four of the team's five preseason games so far (getting the night off against the Kings). He's struggled a bit shooting 23%, 25%, 50%, and 33% from the field in the four games respectively. Fortunately, it appears he is starting to turn it around, and it will be very important to see how he plays in the final two preseason games against the Lakers and Suns. He's only had one 20+ points game in the preseason (vs the Rockets) but has scored at least 10 points in the other games (only he narrowly made that number against Minnesota).

The Thunder have no real viable three point threats this season, and it is imperative that Durant try not to take on that role this season. Attempting too many three points early last season seemed to break Kevin's rhythm, and he found much more success driving to the hoop, drawing fouls, and taking advantage of his 87% free throw percentage.

As long as he sticks to that plan, Durant should have another big season and avoid a sophomore slump. OKC will be counting on that, and without big production from Durant, it will be a long season for the Thunder.

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