I hate to see superb young players start their NBA careers in year One of the rebuilding phase. The thing I hate more, is when this happens to a good kid. And that's exactly what happened to one half of the coveted rookie duo. Getting Kevin Durant from the no2 spot in last year's draft meant only one thing to Sonics' management. Blow everything up. Down to the basement, Seattle franchise has been hit with earthquake Clay, and will need years to recover. New GM, new headcoach, two All Stars allowed to move on, new Arena and a new City.
In such an enviroment - I call Kevin Durant's first season A SUCCESS. Everybody knew that the kid can play. We were also anxious to see how he will cope with the transition to pros. Durant was named a savior, new face of the team, yet he didn't embrace the role. All he wants is to win. He will play team basketball, encourage his teammates, learn from the vets and give respect where respect is earned. But he won't win. Not this year, nor the next one. And it will strike him hard. It messes with your confidence, your beliefs and with your patience. People start calling you bust. Underachiever. It happened to Emeka Okafor. It will happen again. And organizations are to blame. Or plain bad luck. Oden was picked by the Blazers, who are already in year 3 of reconstruction, by the time he actually plays it'll be year 4. Same thing with Dwight Howard. They came in at the right time for their franchises. Kevin Durant wasn't that lucky - expiring contracts, DL centers and draft picks. You can't win with that - not in years to come.
So I see Al Horford is being mentioned as ROY. Solid season from a very good player who is actually playing his secondary position. Love the kid. But he is the last piece of the puzzle [or second to last, if we count Bibby] for the Hawks, not the first one. Give it to Durant. I don't believe he is into individual accolades, but it will boost his confidence and confirm that he was doing all the right things.
He is actually playing as one, especially recently. He raised his shooting from .400 to .530 in March and April, which is impressive considering he is the only Sonic defences have to guard. 20 points and 4.1 boards a night is pretty darn good for a rookie. And to be 28th best scorer in the league with the season best of only 35 shows how consistant he really was in that department. He scored in double digits only twice in 2008, and is 17th best rebounding guard in the league. So it won't be like he was donated.
Sadly, most of the fans came to Save the Sonics in Seattle and not to appreciate the talent Durant has. Will OC be able to identify themselves with him or CP3 and the Hornets stole their hearts already? How many years have to pass so this kid can be widely beloved and on a winning team?
I hope he'll be rewarded for this season with the best player in the draft, whomever it turns out to be. Or he might come to the Spurs, he'll be welcomed.