Full Name: Kevin Wayne Durant
Nickname: "KD." "Slim Reaper." "Velvet Hoop." Some people call him "Durantula," and one person (him) calls him "The Servant."
Contract Status: Nothing major, just the biggest contract story in all the league. Since LeBron James went back to Cleveland, the focus has turned to Kevin Durant, who is playing out the last year of his deal with Oklahoma City before becoming the most sought after free agent in the summer of 2016, with every single franchise calling his name, none bigger than his home town of D.C.
Interesting Factoid: I named my daughter (middle name: "Kaydee") after KD. His favorite Kanye West song is "Crack Music" (pretty good choice) and his favorite movie is "Twister."
- Recruited out of Montrose Christian School, when he was considered the second-best high school prospect
- Won College Player of the Year honors in his lone season at Texas
- Drafted 2nd in the 2007 NBA Draft by the then-Sonics
- Rookie of the Year in 2007-08
- Six time NBA All-Star
- 5 time NBA All First Team
- 2012 All-Star Game MVP
- MVP in 2013-14
Durant has been the game’s best scorer for years, racking up four scoring championships and joining the 50/40/90 club at age 24 (the youngest ever) and being tabbed as the eventual successor to LeBron as the league’s best talent. In his MVP 2013-14 season, Durant cemented his status as 1a in the league, eviscerating the NBA while carrying the Thunder without Russell Westbrook most of the year.
Expectations for Durant nosedived all year. When he opted out of playing another summer with Team USA, the hope was that he would be well rested and set to carry a stronger Thunder team back to at least the Western Conference Finals. Then a broken bone was discovered in his foot, and the hopeful silver lining was for him to fully heal while Westbrook carried the team, with the promise of extended rest still serving as a light at the end of the tunnel.
Regular Season Grade: Incomplete
Things seemed to be panning out all right for Durant at one point. He came back earlyish, looking like his old self. But then he developed a limp, and eventually had a second, supposedly minor, procedure on the foot. Then the foot still wasn’t healing right, and Durant was eventually shut down for good.
The most consecutive games he played all season was 12. For a player who never got beyond the easing-back-in role, he was incredible. He averaged a cool 25.4 points on even better shooting than the season prior (.510 overall, .403 from three). Much like Westbrook a year before, it was startling how dominant KD was fresh off of major surgery. But he was forced to watch the miserable Thunder season close like the rest of us: as a spectator. So Durant's foot gets an F, and he gets an incomplete.
Most Notable Game/Moment: A Historic Game Cut Short
Before things really fell apart, the Golden State/OKC matchup still held some intrigue for those wondering who was the true favorite in the Western Conference. KD was Slim Reaping his way to 30 points in the first half on the road, nailing 10-13 shots in 19 beautiful minutes of play. But with mere seconds remaining in the 1st half, he stepped on the stupid foot of Maureese Speights. He sprained his ankle bad enough to miss the rest of that game and the next six, and it’s possible that the sprain contributed to his foot’s failure to heal.
Despite Durant’s consistently positive statements regarding the Thunder, this season will be a circus of speculation about his future. Even an early promise that he’ll re-sign won’t squash the rumblings (see: Kevin Love), as a new coach and the biggest NBA salary opportunities ever are now realities for the 26-year-old. Additionally, we’ll all be intently watching to see if Durant can fully recover from his third foot surgery and remove worry about whether he’ll become another big man with a career marred by foot problems.
Lots of big questions, but Durant is a big time talent. Playing alongside a fully realized Westbrook, a post machine in Enes Kanter, the firebreathing Anthony Morrow, and the most well-rounded roster in his time with the Thunder should yield a scorched earth offense. It’s really more important to the team that Durant can again be a very good defender than whether he scores 28 or 30 points a night.
It’s appropriate that the Thunder’s concerns align with the heart of the organization in Durant. Health, offense, defense. Even if he doesn’t have an A+ season in 2015-16, I’m looking forward to just seeing him play again.