With the start of the 2020-2021 season there’s many players that have been out on injuries, and us basketball fans are anxious to see them perform again. Today we’ll look into a superstar who’s in some cases got the short end of the stick. He’s faced controversy for being a “ring chaser”, but he is one of the best in the game of basketball. He’s a two-time NBA champ, ten-time all-star, and MVP award winner. Today’s topic is “The Rise of Kevin Durant”
Kevin Wayne Durant was born on September 29th, 1988. He grew up in Washington D.C with his mother Wanda, and his grandmother so they raised him together. His father came back into the picture by the time KD was 13 years old. He grew up playing basketball and his favorite player was Vince Carter. His dream was to play for the Raptors, who was his favorite team.
He played AAU basketball with Michael Beasley, Greivis Vasquez and Ty Lawson, who went on to play in the NBA as well. He attended three different high schools, National Christian Academy, Oak Hill Academy, and for his senior year he attended Montrose Christian School. Before he started his senior year he grew 5 inches and now measured at 6’7. He was ranked as the second best player in his class, behind Greg Oden, and was heavily recruited in high school. He also committed to play for the University of Texas before the start of his senior season. He played in the 2006 McDonald’s All-American Game and won the MVP award.
Durant entered his first year at Texas in the 2006-2007 season. As a freshman he averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds. He even sprouted up 2 more inches now being an even bigger threat than before. He led the Longhorns to the NCAA tournament, but they were eliminated in the second round. He won every award possible, and became the first freshman to win any of the national player of the year awards. His #35 jersey was retired from the University. Durant was a one-and-done, so he declared for the 2007 NBA Draft.
Durant was selected second overall by the Seattle SuperSonics, who are known as the Oklahoma City Thunder now after relocating. He had a successful rookie season and was named the Rookie of the Year. He averaged 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists and he also became the only teenager, at 19 years old, to average at 20 least 20 points per game in a season. Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James are the only other to do so.
The following season, the Sonics relocated, and also drafted an all-star guard from UCLA, also known as Russell Westbrook. He continued to grow and finally reached his final height of 6’11. During the 2009-2010 season, he earned his first All-Star selection. The Thunder were on the right track with KD and Westbrook and they made the playoffs this season. He was averaging 30.1 points per game and became the youngest scoring champ. OKC lost the series in six games, but KD was selected to his first All-NBA team.
OKC was definitely on the map for the 2010-2011 season. He signed a five-year contract extension deal with the Thunder worth $86 million. He delivered once again and led the NBA in scoring for a second consecutive year averaging 27.7 points per game. The Thunder earned the fourth seed in the playoffs, but were eliminated in the conference Finals.
During the 2011-2012 lockout season, he had his first career 50-point game, was voted to another All-Star game, and he was the All-Star MVP. KD was so good, he won his third straight scoring title averaging 28 points per game. They went into the playoffs as the second seed and defeated the Mavs, Lakers and Spurs, but took a devastating loss to Miami in the 2012 Finals.
The following season, KD kept his numbers high, but he was outscored this year. He shot 51% from the field, and 41.6% from the three. He became the youngest player in NBA history to join the 50-40-90 club, and with KD performing to the highest standards, he helped OKC earn the number one spot heading into the playoffs. Westbrook suffered from an injury that kept him from competing, so the weight of OKC was on KD’s shoulders. They only made it to the second round before being eliminated by the Grizzlies.
In the 2013-2014 season, KD didn’t come to play and averaged 35.9 points per game, and had a career-high 54 points against the Warriors. He beat out Jordan’s record by having 41 consecutive games scoring 25 points or more. This was KD’s MVP season, but he couldn’t catch a break and came up short again in his quest for a ring.
The 2014-2015 season he missed the first 17 games due to a foot injury. He ended up only playing in 27 games this season because of multiple injuries, but he averaged 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game in those games he played.
The 2015-2016 season turned out to be his last season in OKC. He and Westbrook played well together and became the first pair of teammates to each score at least 40 points in a single game. They led OKC to another playoff series being a number three seed, and KD averaged 28.2 points and 8.2 rebounds for the season. They made it to the conference finals, but lost the series 3 to 1 against Golden State.
From coming up short plenty of times KD decided to leave OKC and join the team that he continuously lost to. This caused critics to attack KD and call him a traitor because he joined forces with Golden State. He was desperate for his first ring, and followed the footsteps of Lebron to create a “super team” in order to make it happen. The Warriors came head to head with the defending champs, the Cavs in the Finals. This was the third time the Warriors made it to the Finals, so it was no surprise. They took out Lebron James and the Cavs in 5 games and KD was finally a World Champ and NBA Finals MVP award.
After the Finals, KD declined his player option and became an unrestricted free agent, but he re-signed with the Warriors. He became the second-youngest player to score 20,000 points in NBA history. The Warriors went into the playoffs looking to get another ring. They eliminated Houston in the Western Conference Finals in a challenging 7 game series. They came head to head with the Cavs in a rematch for the title. But, they took the trophy with ease sweeping the Cavs. The Warriors are now back-to-back champs and he also earned his second NBA Finals MVP award as well.
Durant re-signed with the Warriors for a third year on a two-year contract. He set a new playoff career high with 50 points to close out the series against the Clippers. But, KD suffered from a calf-strain that caused him to miss Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals. He ended up sitting for 9 games, and returned back on the court in Game 5 of the 2019 Finals. Unfortunately, it may have been a bit too soon and he suffered from a torn achilles tendon. With KD having a season ending injury, the Warriors couldn’t complete the three-peat and lost in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors.
Durant was out for the next season, but decided to leave Golden State and sign with the Brooklyn Nets. He made his season debut on December 22nd, 2020, which was the beginning of the 2020-2021 NBA season. In his debut game against his previous team, he scored 22 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, had 3 assists, and 3 steals. People are saying that KD is back! He’s started off the new season strong averaging 29.4 points and shooting 53.7% from the field. He’s also averaging 7.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.
In other news, the Nets have surfaced as a team in interest to trade for James Harden. The nets have key pieces Kyrie Irving and Durant and would love to add Harden to be the third piece they’re missing. After the Rockets took an embarrassing loss to the Lakers, Harden had said what seemed to be a farewell statement saying “I’ve literally done everything that I can. The situation is crazy. It’s something I don’t think can be fixed, so…yeah…thanks.” The following day, there was a breaking announcement saying Harden has been traded to the Nets.
So now KD’s back, is he back his old self? Do you think with Kyrie’s help and adding Harden to the solution the Nets can earn a title? I’m interested in seeing how the three players play together and the roles they take on. How do you think KD will adapt to this new Nets team? Let us know in the comments below.