Durant's best is yet to come
Having a superstar is essential in today’s NBA and the Thunder undoubtedly has one of the league’s top, proven superstars. Plus the best thing of all: he’s not even 25 years old.
Durant’s growth has happened so fast that we often forget how young he actually is, and how few years he’s really been in the league. In 2010, he won his first scoring title at the age of 21, averaging 30.1 points per game. He would then proceed to win the next 2 scoring titles before leading his team to the NBA’s biggest stage in 2012, at the age of 23.
Morale of the story: the guy is good, and he’s only going to get better.
Durant had a slightly - emphasis on slightly - disappointing playoff performance. His final playoff averages of 30.8 points per game, 45.5% FGs, and 83% FTs weren’t a huge downgrade from his regular season averages (28.1, 51%, 90.5%), but the late series struggles against Memphis - scoreless, 0-5 shooting performance in Game 4 overtime and 5-21 with 7 turnovers in Game 5 - definitely stick out.
It was the fact that he couldn’t overcome the odds and win without his team’s second best player that really make his performance something of a disappointment. If he had been able to overtake a well-rounded, physical Memphis team after the loss of Westbrook, it would have been a really special accomplishment for one of the league's best players, but the Grizzlies played a tremendous series and wouldn't allow Durant to have his moment.
When you consider the loss of Harden right before the season and then the loss of Westbrook right when the playoffs began, it really becomes clear that this just wasn’t the time for Durant yet.
Before the season, Oklahoma City made the commitment to a future without James Harden, making it something of a transitional year. Losing one of the games top scorers off the bench, the Thunder commit themselves to focusing more on Serge Ibaka as a cornerstone both defensively and offensively. The 6’10” big man logged an extra 4 minutes per contest this year, while significantly raising his scoring from 9 points per game to 13. And behind Durant, the Thunder still proved to be the top regular season team in the West.
The nucleus of Durant/Westbrook/Ibaka is locked up for the next four years. With a few more key role players and continued improvement from the main trio, there’s no reason not to consider the Thunder one of the primary contenders for the title next season.
Thank you for another fun season, Kevin Durant. We look forward to seeing your next move…