Kevin Durant; scoring champion the last three seasons, All-Star, leader of last years Western Conference Champions and now a gold medal Olympian. Durant has accomplished much in his first five seasons in the league but there is still much more to be accomplished.
Over the last several seasons, fans have watched him grow and evolve into one of the best basketball players in the world. With his 24th birthday just around the corner he has yet to reach his peak. After coming so close but falling just short of his first MVP and first ring last season, what should we expect from the young star next season? I expect three things.
Number one, I expect him to do something only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlin have done; win four straight scoring titles. He’s arguably the best scorer in the NBA right now on one of the most explosive teams. The only two players that could challenge him and possibly keep him from obtaining that fourth scoring title are Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. However, I still see Durant coming out on top of that race. He has all the potential to be one of the greatest if not the greatest scorer in NBA history. Over the summer he led Team USA in scoring with 19.5 points per game including a game high 30 points in the gold medal win over Spain. He also set an American men’s record for most points scored in an Olympic tournament with 156 which is quite the accomplishment when you think about some of the all time great players that have competed for the United States in the Olympics (Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant just to name a few). He’s someone that later on down the road could potentially challenge Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all time points record. But for now we will just focus on the 2012-13 season. This leads me to my second expectation.
Kevin Durant will win his first MVP. He's come second in voting twice in the last three years. I believe it’s his time and even more importantly he believes it’s his time. Durant was recently quoted in the Washington Post saying, “I’ve heard a few times, in three or four years, this league is going to be yours. I don’t like that. Because I think I’m established now. My time is now. I feel as though I’ve proved myself these last five years that I can be one of the top players in the league. I’ve got a long way to go to being the ultimate best, but I think my time is now. And I’m starting to enter my prime.” His defense improved dramatically last season and he has become a better all around player as opposed to being just a great shooter. I think his all around game will continue to elevate next season and he will in turn have his best season yet. If I'm right, he cannot be denied his first MVP trophy.
Last but not least, I expect him to lead his team to a second straight NBA Finals. Although many are calling the LA Lakers the team to beat next season, I believe it will be the Thunder who once again comes out on top of the Western Conference. One positive that came out of last season’s Finals loss for OKC is it will make their young team mentally tougher and I think they’ll come out next season more determined than ever. I firmly believe it was a learning experience that will ultimately push Durant to new heights in his career. I also believe if I’m right and OKC does make the Finals next season, the outcome will be different.
These expectations may be high but Durant has never been one to back down from a challenge. I may have set the bar high but he has everything it takes to jump over it.