The two-time defending scoring champion doesn’t just score, he scores in the clutchest of moments. That’s right, I said clutchest. We all have known for a while now about this guy’s ability to fill the basket relentlessly since his single season as a Texas Longhorn. But so rarely do we witness this kind of poise and leadership from a 23 year-old small forward.
After Oklahoma City’s game @ Memphis Wednesday night, talented point guard Russell Westbrook once again showed visible frustration with his teammates. Since this is not the first time the young point guard has lashed out with a myriad of unpleasant verbage towards his teammates, people have started wonder if OKC really has the core unity and strength to actually go all the way.
Durant confronted Westbrook about the matter and the situation appeared to be getting worse for the moment. When asked about the situation later, Durant simply stated that it was water under the bridge at that point and that he has Westbrook’s back 110%, just as he knows Westbrook has his.
Seriously KD ? Could you be more perfect ? And is this really water under the bridge ? Westbrook’s past behaviour would suggest that the answer to the second question is the same as the first one – No.
Just one day after this ugly situation, Durant leads his team to victory against the Mavericks by scoring 30 points (again), 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal. So whether or not you believe this to be water under the bridge, you have to admit, Durant has at least built that bridge. He transcended himself from scorer and go-to-man on the floor, to a genuine leader that is now the Thunder’s go to man-to-man in the locker room as well.
Thus far this season (I know, we’re only four games in) Durant has shown a committment to continue to improve defensively as well as a constant progression in his passing (61% increase in assists from last year) and 3-point shooting (32% increase). When you add that to his terrific percentages, most fantasy players should already know that there is no one better.
Alongside Chicago Bulls’ reigning MVP point guard Derrick Rose, Durant has re-shaped the expectations of what a young star in the NBA should be: Proud yet humble, great scorer yet solid defender, physically gifted yet emotionally strong, and a gentleman that can lead other men who are not so gentle.
If the Thunder can remain a calm and cohesive unit throughout the rest of the season, I think they will win it all. That is something that is going to be much easier said than done, especially when you consider the presence of Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins in Oklahoma City.
In New York they called old Yankee Stadium “The house that Ruth built” and in Seattle we called Safeco Field “The house that Junior built”. After all the turmoil the NBA and it’s players put themselves through this past off-season, if Kevin Durant and the Thunder can accomplish NBA Finals glory, then I propose that 2012 be known as the NBA’s bridge that KD built.