The Oklahoma City Thunder has thrust upon the landscape of the 2008-09 NBA season with some media headlines, lows, and some increasing high points through the first half of the season. The main highlight has been the rise of young phenom Kevin Durant.
Durant—fresh off his 2007-08 NBA Rookie of the Year honors, 20.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 2.4 APG in 80 games, all of which he started—has risen to heights far greater than his rookie campaign.
Most of the recent NBA newcomers have run into a sophomore slump of sorts. This is not the case for Durant.
Over the past 25 games of the NBA season, Durant has elevated his status to one of the elite young players in the game. Durant has been averaging a lofty 28.3 PPG while snaring a team high 9.8 RPG. This model of consistency has been noticed by his peers and coaches across the league.
Durant's exploits are ones of progress rather than a slowdown.
"This game is fun. I love playing against the likes of Kobe, LeBron, D-Wade, Garnett and others," he said. "Those are great players. I am just trying to get better and those guys elevate my game to a higher level."
The current home arena, Ford Center, has seen Durant’s exploits in 2006-07 as a freshman star for the University of Texas Longhorns.
His thrust upon the scene in the Big 12 Conference wowed the faithful in the sooner state with a masterful 36 point and 15 rebound performance in the title game.
"This is an awesome place to play," he said. "The fans are with you 100 percent. They are very loud and they give us an extra boost when games are tight."
Durant has positioned himself as a player a team has to game-plan against with the likes of LeBron, Kobe, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and others.
"Kevin’s skill is not forcing the action," Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks said. "He lets the game come to him and he is very unselfish. That is a skill that comes with age. Rarely do you see that in such a young player."
The rise of the Thunder in recent weeks had rested on the shoulders of Durant. His play is very contagious. His teammates Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook, and Earl Watson all have had career seasons running along side Durant.
"[Durant's] work ethic is amazing," Westbrook said. "He is always in the gym and we as a group are trying to keep up. He wears us out and challenges us at the same time"
The chapter of Durant success is its early stages; however from reviews of all the readers he is garnering an A-plus. He is currently averaging 25.6 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 2.8 PG. Those are all improvements from his tremendous rookie campaign.
Besides of his great acumen on the 94 foot hardwood, Durant has used his popularity within Oklahoma City and has availed himself for numerous community involvement events. These events include a Durant sneaker giveaway at the local Boys and Girls club of Oklahoma City and a charity food drive.
"People see me as a basketball player; however I have definite interests outside the game," Durant said. "It thrills me just as much seeing a smile on a young person’s face as it done when I throw down a tomahawk dunk at the Ford Center."
The fans, Durant’s peers, and the coaches will continue to marvel at the exploits and the spectacular basketball things Durant accomplishes accomplish throughout his career. If given the opportunity, please watch the phenom perform, it is a definite joy to watch!
John E. Banks is a local Oklahoma City sports journalist and photographer.
He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org