Seasoned Durant Says OKC Will Be Back

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Kevin Durant turned 25 on Sunday yet it seems like he’s already claimed a career’s worth of accomplishments:

  • Three-time scoring champ
  • 4-time All-Star
  • 4-time All-NBA First Team
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Olympic gold medalist

“Man, it seems like yesterday I was in high school,” Durant said. “Now I’m going into my seventh year in the best league in the world. It’s unbelievable how time flies, especially when you’re having fun playing the game you love. … I’m excited for the season. I’m excited for the opportunities our new guys are going to get. I’m excited for the opportunity I’m going to get as a leader, to step into a different phase as a leader and just see what happens.”

There is one significant achievement Durant has yet to pocket and it’s one he’ll hear about until he raises the Larry O’Brien trophy. That’s just the way it is for the game’s great players, and right now only two-time champion LeBron James stands ahead of Durant. His mission is to return the Oklahoma City Thunder to The Finals after last season’s disappointing West semifinal loss following Russell Westbrook‘s knee injury.

Memphis choked off Durant down the stretch of the final four games to win in five, opening him up for the first time to instant, if largely unjust, criticism. Knee-jerked into the can’t-win-it-all category that James found himself in following the Cavs’ miserable ending to the 2010 playoffs, Durant and the Thunder were said to have lost their championship momentum. Somehow their window, despite their youth and All-Star credentials, was shrinking with the Clippers, Warriors and Rockets all on the move.

“That stuff comes from the outside, from fans that only look at ESPN or comes from media guys; that doesn’t come from the inside,” Durant said. “That’s the most important thing is worrying about what comes through the group, how we feel as a group and as an organization, and we feel that we’re in a good position. We’re all excited. If we come in thinking we lost momentum or anything like that, that’ll mess us up. So we just try to focus on each and every day and we’ll be fine.”

Durant said he’ll be better this season. Asked where his game has improved, he put it this way:

“It’s more seasoned. You get better with time and that’s how I feel, I just feel more seasoned, more experienced,” Durant said. “Once you hit that stage it just kind of clicks for you so hopefully it helps me out this year. Of course, I put work in on my game, different parts of my game, but I just feel more like a vet and just ready to take on … I’ve been through every situation, so I’m ready to take it head on and ready to just embrace everything.”

James won his first title in his ninth season at age 27. Michael Jordan was also 27 when he claimed his first of six rings in his seventh season, the one Durant is about to enter. The depth question has gained plenty of traction in OKC, particularly if young guards Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb can replace the bench scoring of Kevin Martin (who replaced super sub James Harden).

This is a team that boasts two top 10 players in Durant and Westbrook, 24, who might miss the beginning of the season as he continues to rehab from knee surgery. But, he is expected to return to his fearless ways before long. Add reigning shot-block king and evolving offensive weapon Serge Ibaka, 24, and the Thunder, which finished last season ranked No. 2 in offense rating and No. 4 in defense rating according to NBA.com stats, should once again be equipped to compete for the championship.

“Yeah, we’re really confident that we can,” Durant said. “We’re not going to come in and say, ‘look, we can’t win it all, we don’t have enough.’ We’re all a confident group of guys and an experienced group of guys. So, yeah, I think so.”

15 Comments

  1. JMaine says:

    you all are on some hard stuff i think only one person said something that was point on. A whole lot of subtracting and no addition. that team is basing they’re season on hopes that Jackson turns out to be another scoring threat. They have the same Scoring capabilities as they did last year…….limited. SI will shrink when the lights get bright. OKC is going to have it hard as long as they think KD and WB is all they need. For all you KD fans how good is he really? couldn’t get past the Grizz by himself. He learned what it is to put a team on his back and failed horrible. hence why he couldn’t win his first trip. Hope for him it’s not his last but they way the league and L. James is going. Unless the team stops acting like Cleveland and james just quite.

    • Ruben says:

      First of all James didn’t have a number 2 guy like KD35 has now.. And when Okc went into that series with the Grizz, yeah Kd bailed them out, one game! Sooo the moot point is KD and WB can win a title if SI and Perk can step up… And if that bench can can chip in and if they can add a couple of players who can help. Hey, may have to go over the luxury tax to do it. That is price of winning a chip I suppose.

  2. asdf says:

    I think Thunder has a decent chance to make the WCF this year no matter what and they should get to the Finals if their bench plays decent. They would have beaten Memphis this year without Westbrook if Ibaka could actually make a shot, the games were pretty close.

  3. Romeo Aguirre says:

    I love this team KD is a great player and RW is a good sidekick SI a great shot block this is a complete team they will get some rings down the road

    • astar23 says:

      If you think OKC is a complete team, you are wrong. They are missing one more scorer, they have no post game and Ibaka and Perkins are pretty much useless late game.

      • Pakyaw says:

        I like I said before in other article, if okc become a defensive minded team , they are tough to beat… Even kd and rw score 30+ pts each they can still lose, we seen it many times..

  4. okc2014 says:

    I gotta agree w/ Unkle Daddy. I’m still not understanding why the Thunder keeps deleting and not adding. They are the only team this off season, that didn’t make a major aquisition. I don’t understand why Perkins is still there either. But, I still have high hopes for this team and really hope they are the 2014 champions. If all players step up (not just Durant), I believe they can beat the Heat w/ no problem. Go Thunder!!!

  5. Unkle Daddy says:

    I hate to say this, but Jordan never had a player like Westbrook or Harden, until he teamed with Pippen. If he wants to get back to the finals, they better start making some moves, and plan on being over the luxury tax. Thy need a new (SG) and a (C).

    • Romeo Aguirre says:

      Your crazy the sg they have is there for defense Perkins is there emotional leader what they need is people that can come off the bench and score

  6. ripistons says:

    MJ was 29 years old when he first won the title,not 27 as the article says

  7. I do enjoy watching the Thunder and they have been a great team the past few years, but I think this year they will step down from the limelight of the West and the Clippers will take their spot as the number one team.

  8. junejoseph says:

    I hope OKC and KD gets back to the Finals and if it happens, Ihope they face GSW, HOU and LAC and hoping for a OKC and MIA rematch. this road to a ring will be the most unbelievable, but will certainly will be the sweetest.

    As a HEAT Fan, I hope OKC well and we’ll meet you in the REMATCH.