sábado, 27 de abril de 2013



NBA Scoring Champion 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 (the youngest player in NBA history to win three consecutive scoring titles), All NBA First Team 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, NBA All-Star Game 2012 MVP (36 points, the highest figure ever), World Champion FIBA 2010,  World Champion FIBA 2010 MVP, Olympic Champion London 2012, NBA Rookie of the Year 2007-2008, NBA Western Conference Finals Champion, Most Points in a FIBA World Championship game by USA Team (38), 2007 John R. Wooden Award as top player in College Basketball (the first freshman to be name national player of the year).

These are the most significant awards attained by Kevin Durant (forward of Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team), who is currently the best basketball player in the world along with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

Kevin Durant is a unique player featuring a very comprehensive array of traits and skills who turn him into the embodiment of the very complete and gifted player for professional basketball:

-          -    A height of 6-9 (2,07 cm) and 215 lbs (105 kg).

-          -    A large wingspan enabling him to greatly stretch his arms and avoid block-shots by rival centers and power forwards when making his full-speed penetrations.

-          -   Handling of the ball and quickness of movements very rarely seen in a forward of his height and typical in much shorter elite point guards or shooting guards.

-          -   A great jumping ability, allowing him to consistently attack the rival basket either shooting from medium, long and very long distances or making full-blast onslaughts into the opposing squad paint finishing the plays with powerful dunks or a stunning array of lay-ups.

-         -   Lethal accuracy when making medium, long and very long range jumping shots

-  An uncommon dribbling and bouncing of ball skills for such a tall player, so he is able to steadily create for himself a very comprehensive catalogue of offensive plays (passing, shooting, turnaround jumpers, threepointers, attacking rebounds, lay-ups, coast to coast fastbreaks, etc) to disrupt opposing teams defenses, which have a lot of difficulties trying to guess what he´s exactly going to do at every moment.

-  An unselfish personality and team play mentality. Kevin Durant is highly beloved by his teammates (Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha, Reggie Jackson, Nick Collison, Kevin Martin, Hasheem Thabeet, etc), who are growing more and more in their play.

-          -  A proved ability shooting decisive threepointers from every location on the court, however well defended he may be, and with a very long range.

-          -  An outstanding assisting prowess. Durant also excels passing the ball to the best located men of his squad, something he often brings about drawing enemy defenses on him in order to generate gaps.

-          -  Brutal addiction to the game. Kevin Durant is the archetype of  fantastic player loving the game of basketball. He relishes to the utmost what he does.

-          -  A full-fledged working capacity. He has increasingly improved both his play and physical condition since his times as a freshman with the Texas Longhorns.

- A scoring machine. Kevin Durant is a player featuring unique physical dimensions and capabilities, because nobody that tall has been till now so quick and skilled. His arsenal of moves is amazing, in the same way as his steadfast willingness to work hard on the court and his lethal precision with jumpers up to a distance of around nine meters.

As a matter of fact, Kevin Durant has attained very high figures of points since the beginning of his career, such as happened during his first season as a freshman with the Texas Longhorns in which he averaged 28.9 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.

And from his first matches in NBA he proved to be a top scorer, with a number of unforgettable performances among which must be highlighted: 35 points in the Seattle Supersonics victory 95-93 against Indiana Pacers on November 30, 2007; 37 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists in the 151-147 double overtime victory of Seattle Supersonics against Denver Nuggets on April 6, 2008; 41 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists in the 100-92 victory of Oklahoma City Thunder against Atlanta Hawks on January 19, 2012 ; 51 points in the 124-118 overtime victory of Oklahoma City Thunder against Denver Nuggets on April 18, 2012; 52 points in the Oklahoma City Thunder victory 117-114 against Dallas Mavericks on January 19, 2013 (with an also great performance by Russell Westbrook, who scored 31 points); 42 points in the 116-101 victory of Oklahoma City Thunder against Los Angeles Lakers on January 11, 2013 (with 27 points and 10 assists by Russell Westbrook), 41 points in the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-90 victory against Phoenix Suns on January 14, 2013 and many others.

He has achieved twice an Oklahoma City Thunder franchise record of seven consecutive games scoring 30 or more points with Oklahoma City Thunder: the first one attained from December 22, 2009 to January 2, 2010 and the second one from April 4, 2010 to April 14, 2010.

On the other hand, he has got three more records with OKC: consecutive games scoring 25 or more points (29 matches between December 22, 2009 and February 23, 2010), more than 30 points per game in one season (forty-eight during 2009-2010), and most points in one season (2,472 during 2009-2010).

Needless to say that his performances during the All-Star Game 2012 held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (34 points, three rebounds and two assists) and the All-Star Game 2013 held at the Amway Center in Orlando (Florida) on February 26, 2013, where he got 36 points and was chosen MVP were truly amazing.

It´s really astounding the quantity of different things Kevin Durant is able to do being such a big man.

Besides, he scored 28 points in the 2010 FIBA World Championship when the USA team coached by Mike Krzyzewski (who developed an outstanding stifling defense throughout the whole competition) beat Turkey 81-64

-          -  A full grasp and knowledge of the different aspects of the game such as pick-and-roll, help-side defense, etc.

-          -  A great attitude and winning resolve. From scratch, he has been a highly competitive basketball player.

-          -  Huge versatily and talent to generate solutions depending on the dynamics of the games. Kevin Durant is a master reading the match tempos and the virtues and weak sides of each rival team to try to adapt his own and his teammates play to it.

-         -   Great speed of movements on full court, including an attacking first step very difficult to defend.

-          -  A global conundrum for rival defenses. He´s exceedingly gifted for this sport and highly unpredictable in his decisions. If the rival coach puts a guard, shooting guard, forward or power forward on him, chances are that Durant will easily score two or three points with a jumper, taking advantage of his height, great jumping ability and shooting accuracy; and if a very big, tall and powerful center goes out of the paint trying to defend him, he will easily dribble him, subsequently driving into enemy basket to dunk or make an easy lay-up. Durant has become a greatly unstoppable threat.

-          -  An outstanding rhythm change and feigning ability constantly breaking his defenders´ waist and ending in scoring jumpers or penetrations from all conceivable positions.

-         -   He´s only 24 years old, showing amazing experience and class for his youth, an NBA basketball player who seems to be poised for greatness, in the prime of his professional career and featuring enough stamina to endure complete games as a line-up member of Oklahoma City Thunder, without slowing the pace at any moment.

-          -  His humbleness. In spite of the stellar performances he has fulfilled both in his college and NBA seasons, Kevin Durant is a very humble man, considering himself as a one more player of the teams in which he has played, which results in a high synergy between him and his teammates.

-          -  He is capable of playing any position on the floor. It means a lot of advantage for Oklahoma City Thunder depending on the matches circumstances, since there are times in which a high scoring flow of 30 or more points by Durant playing as a pure 3 are necessary and other ones in which (specially  when facing very physically strong squads) he has to often perform as attacking rebounder, defensive man making lateral helps, block-shot man against the penetrations of rival power forwards and guards (helping Kendrick Perkins very much in this regard) and contributing as much as possible in the capture of defensive and attacking rebounds (specially  the diagonal caroms) to oxygen Serge Ibaka in specific  stages of the games.

-          -  He´s a very good rebounder. Though he is a forward, his formidable skills, ball handling, speed, 6 ft 9 in (2.07 cm) height and remarkable jumping ability enable him to be able to play on any position, including as a center if necessary during stages in which Kendrick Perkins or Serge Ibaka have four or five faults, giving them time to rest.

Oklahoma City Thunder reached the NBA 2011-2012 Finals last year, being defeated 4-1 by Miami Heats, who proved to be an exceedingly strong team (with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Richard Lewis and Mike Miller as main players).

Anyway, Oklahoma City Thunders are this year once more a real challenger to win NBA 2012-2013 ring, because they´ve gained tons of experience through that defeatby Miami Heats and the one they suffered against Dallas Mavericks in the 2010-2011  Western Conference Finals (also 4-1).

But Oklahoma City Thunder have become a real contender to fight for the NBA title, as proved by their 2011-2012 victory in the Western Conference Finals against Dallas Mavericks and their arrival to NBA Finals 2011-2012 where they were beaten by a very brilliant Miami Heats commanded by the trio LeBron James (still probably the best player in NBA), a sensational Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Most experts coincide that Miami Heat are also this 2012-2013 season the top favourite team to win NBA title, but there´s a great expectation to know how Kevin Durant will perform in crunch time of decisive games, specially in the key phases of Western Conference and even a possible final once more against Miami Heats.

This will be a fairly major moment in Kevin Durant´s professional career, the time where he will need to gather all of his mental strength, basketball skills and desire to win.

But only a player doesn´t make a team, and an upsurge in the scoring performance of his teammates, mainly Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka (the best block-shot specialist in NBA), Thabo Sefolosha, Reggie Jackson and Nick Collison could be important to win, along with a further key factor which could make the difference in comparison with previous years: the attacking contribution made by the extraordinary duo of Oklahoma City Thunder guards: Russell Westbrook (arguably now the best playmaker in NBA along with Dwyane Wade, featuring tremendous speed, athletic conditions, jumping ability in fastbreak dunks and an offensive engine setting the tone for the team, being a great assistant and defender able to disrupt the rival squad rhythm) and Kevin Martin (a 6 ft 7 in 2.01 m 9 years NBA experience player with leading scoring background in Houston Rockets and Sacramento King, hired this year by OKC and who can perform both as a point guard and shooting guard, fulfilling labors of playmaker getting the ball flow and also as a marksman throwing three pointers in key moments).

P.S: A few hours after the finishing of this article, news has arrived reporting a serious broken meniscus injury suffered by Russell Westbrook during the second playoff match 2012-2013 Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets. It will have him out of competition for the rest of the season. 

This is a a very significant loss for Oklahoma City Thunder, since he had averaged 23.2 points per game during the present 2012-2013 season and 24 ppg throughout playoffs and is unanimously considered the second best player of OKCT team after Kevin Durant, on whose shoulders will fall now even more than before the onus to try to take OKC Thunder as far possible in the playoffs.

© Text and Photo: José Manuel Serrano Esparza