October 26, 2010
The 2010 NBA Preview Extravaganza wraps with a look at the West’s Northwest Division.
While LeBron James was busy fellating himself in front of the world while making his “decision”, the NBA’s best and most exciting young player quietly made a decision of his own. With none of ESPN’s cameras watching and puzzlingly little fanfare, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant quietly tweeted on July 7 that he had resigned with the team on a five-year deal. His Thunder are the franchise to watch this year and for the foreseeable future, and Durant has cemented his status as the NBA’s most likeable and most humble megastar.
Still only 22 years old (!), Durant enters his fourth NBA season coming off a MVP-caliber effort that led his team to a 50-32 record and their first playoff berth since the Sonics became the Thunder and moved to Oklahoma City. In case you’re keeping track, those 50 wins were 27 more than they had the previous year. Let’s all take a minute to drool over his eye-popping pers last season: 30.2 points on 47% FG, 90% FT, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 1 block, and 1.6 three-pointers. Lord have mercy!
The Thunder’s embarassment of riches doesn’t stop with Durant. Starting PG Russell Westbrook (also just 22 years old) figures to take another step towards All-Star status, Jeff Green still hasn’t hit his ceiling a year after averaging 15 and 6, second-year SG James Harden–the third-overall pick of the ’09 draft–looks like a deadly offensive weapon, and the sky’s the limit for raw 21-year-old center Serge Ibaka, who just might be the team’s long-term answer in the middle. Throw in a cadre of other promising youngsters and solid rotational players, and this team just might be ready to make some noise before their time.
Recaps: All Previews