Durant MVP-Ready, But Needs Help



HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Kendrick Perkins told us so earlier this summer.

“We’re all watching Kevin growing into a man. He’s becoming a man,” Perkins said. “Not to say he wasn’t before, but he’s becoming his own man, and Kevin wants to be the best. He wants to be the best player in the NBA.”

Kevin Durant all grown up in this league — resolute, robust, refined — must scare the heck out of the poor souls whose job it is to match up against him. Entering the Oklahoma City Thunder’s fourth of seven preseason games Thursday night against the intriguing New Orleans Pelicans, Durant is making it look so easy that it doesn’t seem fair. Even while his teammates struggle to throw it in the ocean, Durant is shooting 55.3 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 27.0 points and 6.3 assists. Even without All-Star running mate Russell Westbrook, OKC is 3-0 and averaging 102.3 ppg.

Durant is doing it all, expanding his repertoire within the flow of the game and context of the Thunder’s scheme. He scored 36 points in 23 minutes in Tuesday’s win at Denver. Before that he dished out 12 assists with 21 points to beat Philadelphia.

With Westbrook’s sudden exit from the 2013 postseason, Durant tried to carry the franchise on his shoulders, a desperation forced by the urgency of the moment and the impossibility of a team built on a two-star system to adjust to one star, on the fly. Five months later, Durant’s guiding hand and evolving leadership are lessons absorbed over an offseason and being implemented in the preseason. With Westbrook expected to miss the first four to six weeks of the regular season, the Thunder, with Durant as ringmaster, are polishing up their act.

If Durant can lead OKC to a sparkling record through Christmas, he will pad his MVP resume early and open a gap that perhaps even the great LeBron James won’t be able to close.

A fast start without Westbrook is possible. OKC’s first six games, seven of its first 10 and 11 of its first 18 are against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season. But even an all-grown-up Durant will have limits as defenses undoubtedly pressure him to give up the ball.

His teammates will have to rise for OKC to charge out of the gates. As scary as Durant looks through three preseason games, the rest of the Thunder have been frightful: Durant is 31-for-56; his teammates are 83-for-194 (42.8 percent). Durant is 8-for-17 from 3-point range; his teammates are 5-for-41 (12.2 percent).

Much of the preseason spotlight is shining on second-year shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, just because his shooting has been exceptionally poor. Expected to contribute perimeter shooting as a backup, Lamb hasn’t gotten off to a confidence-inducing start. He’s 9-for-33 overall,1-for-13 from beyond the arc, 0-for-9 in his last two games.

He has been a pleasant surprise on the defensive end with eight steals and four blocks.

“They’re not falling right now,” coach Scott Brooks said of Lamb’s shots after he went 3-for-12 in Tuesday’s 109-81 over the Nuggets. “But there’s no reason to not believe that they will.”

There’s also no reason to believe that Durant won’t continue to flourish when the real games start. Still, even Superman needs a hand from time to time.

17 Comments

  1. Son says:

    whatever.

  2. bruce lee says:

    is it true that you like to wade, but tells the truth kevin durant james harden is a better player right now, but do not say that Wade is better than James because he has 3 rings, but the best is james harden guard right now

  3. Don't hate says:

    It’s about time KD wins a MVP the thunders weren’t anything before he was on that team with Westbrook and they don’t need any other peaces to be champs they just need to be as good as they are in regular season in the playoffs

  4. Preston Cummins says:

    I use to like and have respect for KD, that was until he totally disrespected my favorite player, one of the best shooting guards ever and a future hall of famer in Dwyane Wade. That was so pathetic and I have no respect for him anymore.

  5. eewww says:

    Durant can win em bunch of regular season games alone, but he cant win alone in the playoffs. OKC will prolly have the best or 2 best regular season record in the west.

  6. roytroyboymccoy says:

    durant needs to tell his real size, he is a LOT taller than he tells.

  7. In order for Durant to win MVP, he will need to play SUPERB in the initial 3-4 weeks that Westbrook is recovering. Show them who the team belongs to!

  8. Dwayneistop5 says:

    its the preseason let’s not get over hype with things

  9. okc2014 says:

    Kevin Durant will win MVP this season. Scotty Brooks will win coach of the year (well deserved). Russell Westbrook will be back by December. Other players will have the time to improve themselves while he cannot give 100%. Because they will have minutes. Perkins, Ibaka and Jackson will all step up their games. OKC will have the best record in the West, again. And OKC will be the 2014 champs. OKC2014!!!!!!! Go Thunder!!!!!! Go Kevin Durant!!!!!!

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      LOL !

      I like your enthusiasm, but it’s not going to happen. I like KD, he’s one of my favourite players, he will own the league when LeBron leaves.. but OKC needs more pieces to be a contender, even if they still Kevin Martin they still would not be a contender. Not in the wild west lol

      • Joshua Greenfarb says:

        I think it will happen. Westbrook will come back sooner. Jeremy Lamb is the next Kevin Martin or the next Ray Allen or the next Rip Hamilton or the next Rudy Gay. If he’s not al All Star this year, he’ll be a candidate for 6th man of the year.

        Serge Ibaka has a chance to be an All Star (I think for the first time in his career). He’ll also be a candidate for defensive player of the year.

        Lebron James is considered the best overall NBA player. However, if he does not win this upcoming MVP, guess who will? Kevin Durant.

        I predict Kevin Durant will win the 2013-2014 MVP award.

      • Joshua Greenfarb says:

        The West might not be as potent as it was last season. There have been significant changes. We’ll see.

        In my opinion, both LA teams got weaker than last season (especially the Lakers). Clippers are going to miss Caron Butler. Warriors got Igoudala, but I’m not sure how much of an upgrade that really is or how much of a downgrade that really is for Denver. Minnesota will finally make the playoffs, but can they contend for the West Conf. Championship? I don’t really think so. Dallas should be healthy and ready to rock but how far up can they really contend? Dallas will make the playoffs, but that’s probably it. Spurs can still be a great team, but I think their last chance to win the West or the #1 seed or the NBA Championship was last season. I predict they’ll fall to a middle seed: #3 – #7. I know it’s too early to predict and the Spurs can surprise you and they almost won it all lasat season. However, they tend to be inconsistent. They were awesome last year, but can they do that again this year? Especially when Westbrook comes back 100%? I don’t think so.

        Anyhow, there are a lot of angles to consider. I think the West is still the Thunder’s. The only way they can fail to make the 2014 NBA Finals is if they suffer certain major injuries. Otherwise, it’s OKC’s to win or lose.

      • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

        im not sure about that… Clippers improved just by adding Doc Rivers, Houston obviously improved, GSW were already good now they got even better adding Iguodala, Memphis is still a solid team, and don’t forget about the Spurs, I think the Spurs still have some gas left in the tank. I still think OKC is missing a couple of pieces to be legit.

  10. He’s capable of carrying the franchise

    • His Airness says:

      Yeah I don’t understand the lambasting of Lamb’s ability either. He can surely carry the franchise.

  11. Ben says:

    I’m really hoping that Lamb can turn into a sharpshooter and playmaker, someone who can fill the Harden role off the bench (while not having to replicate Harden or be as good – simply having to be able to have both scoring efficiency and on court leadership).

    I think fears Lamb turns out to be Daequan Cook could be realised. I hope not – on paper he seems better. But I’m not seeing anything to make me think he will be yet. All those cringe moments where I just wanted them to get Cook off the court and bring back Thabo – we may end up feeling like that again.

    Mind you, Thabo’s offensive skills and 3pt% are well overlooked. Thunder would do fine to give him more minutes, I don’t think they would lose a whole lot by doing so.