Kevin Durant's 2014-15 campaign was the worst of his career, and came on the heels of Durant's first MVP. As such, Durant has a ton to prove going into this season. Can Durant get back to being the greatest player in the world?
Early returns say yes. In the pre-season, KD was able to lead the Thunder in scoring while shooting 59% from the field. That's a small step, but it's important to proving his position on the team. Russell Westbrook is a phenomenal athlete and a tremendous scorer, but he simply doesn't have the breadth of abilities that KD does. KD has proven his superior efficiency year after year, and it's important that he remains the #1 option on offense.
However, it's also important that Westbrook has the ball in his hands more than KD does. Durant is a good distributor, but doesn't have the assist to turnover ratio that Westbrook does. Accordingly, when KD got the ball in the pre-season, he didn't dawdle. There was always a purpose to KD's possession, and he was usually in great scoring position. Expect Durant to see a lot of work at the top of the key and on the wings, as usual. When Durant isn't the focus of the offense, he's a great spacer as well.
In terms of KD's skillset, you can tell that he's been developing his footwork for quite some time. The pre-season revealed a very nimble Durant, one able to find his balance very easily. As long as KD is quick enough to give his defender the slightest hesitation, his long frame is going to give him an open shot.
When it comes to minutes, Durant will have his time monitored. Coach Donovan said that a committee would review the issue periodically, and they'd come to a group decision. Obviously, Donovan will want to play KD as much as possible without wearing him out. Accordingly, expect Durant to get anywhere from 30-35 minutes a game. Obviously, Durant will be on the floor for all clutch situations.
To appreciate just how far KD has come to this point, here's a full injury timeline.
With Durant having participated in athletic activities since late July, it appears he's fully healthy and ready for a comeback. KD took a bit of time to build his stamina in the early pre-season, but otherwise didn't look like he was struggling physically. That's only good news for Thunder fans, who are going to expect the world out of Durant.