Pop Quiz: Who was second in the 2009-2010 NBA MVP voting behind LeBron James? You might assume the answer would be Kobe Bryant but it’s not. It’s Kevin Durant. That’s how fast Durant has come in three short years since entering the league as the second overall pick out of Texas in 2007 (think Portland regrets taking Greg Oden number one?). At 6-9, Durant is a freak of nature, able to run, dribble and shoot with criminal skill for a man his size. When he’s on his game he’s virtually unstoppable. That was the case for much of last season, in which Durant became the youngest player in league history to win the scoring title. Durant also became one of only ten players in NBA history to start every game and average 30+ points. And in a league whose stars generally have no shortage of bling and ego, Durant is a throwback to bygone times. Humble and hardworking, Durant goes about his business and lets his game do the talking.
This past summer he did his country a solid, leading Team USA to the FIBA World Championship, it’s first since 1994, and winning tournament MVP in the process. Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski had nothing but raves about Durant as both a player and person, and why not? Durant put up 38 against Lithuania in the semis and another 28, including 7 treys, many of them from ungodly range, against a pesky Turkish zone in the championship game. He’s had similar performances against the best of the NBA as well, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs last season and taking the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers to six games in round one. In other words, Durant is a great individual player who thinks in team terms.
There’s no indication that he’ll be “taking his talents” anywhere beyond Oklahoma City for the immediate future, and if he has his way, he’ll stick around long enough to build this team into a perennial contender and possible future champion. If Durant stays healthy over the long haul, he’s got a chance to wreak havoc on the NBA record book in the process. Check him out if you can—and some day you can tell your grandkids that you saw the great Kevin Durant.