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News » Oklahoma City Thunder Getting Inside 2008-10-10

Oklahoma City Thunder Getting Inside 2008-10-10

Oklahoma City Thunder Getting Inside 2008-10-10
How much better can Kevin Durant be?

The 20-year-old will begin to answer that question anew as he enters his second year in the NBA. The 6-foot-9 swingman will again have to adapt to different surroundings, this time in Oklahoma City, but has the benefit of knowing his team is here to stay.

With no talks of relocation looming, Durant can focus on improving his game and helping continue the rebuilding effort began by Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti over a year ago.

A feathery Durant struggled with the consistent pounding of the NBA in the early portion of his first year in the league.

But after the All-Star break, Durant seemed to find a comfort zone, and played his best basketball in the last month of the season, quieting his critics by averaging 23 points and shooting 49 percent from the field in 24 games from March until the end of the season.

Now, with training camp starting, Durant must build on that strong finish and continue to expand his game, both offensively and defensively.

"I think I've gotten a little smarter," Durant said. "That's just an adjustment I had to make. Being in my second year, I can lead a little more and help my team a little more than I did last year. Being the youngest on the team, I was a little nervous at times. But now that I'm acquainted with everyone, I can help out as much as possible and be more of a vocal leader."

Durant seems willing to shoulder the scoring and leadership responsibility, but who will help him with the scoring? Seattle finished last in the league in scoring efficiency and 28th in two-point shooting last season.

During most games last year, teams double-teamed the sinewy rookie and forced other players to beat them. It was an effective strategy, as Durant's teammates struggled to score consistently, particularly during the final minutes of the fourth quarter in close games.

The addition of veterans Joe Smith and Desmond Mason, along with rookie point guard Russell Westbrook should help.

But ultimately, Durant needs franchise mainstays Jeff Green, Earl Watson, Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox to take on more of the scoring load.

In particular, Wilcox, who is playing in the last year of his contract and looking for a lucrative, long-term deal, needs to play up to his potential.

Durant believes the newly named Thunder will be ready, and will improve on a franchise-worst 20-62 campaign from last season.

"We've got a lot of talent on this team," he said. "We've just got to put it all together and keep working hard every day."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 10, 2008


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