Kevin Durant’s debut NBA season was remarkable. So remarkable he was named Rookie of the Year.
Several pro scouts, including Ryan Blake, the associate director of NBA scouting, believe Durant could take his game to another level if he adds muscle to complement a potent outside game. Durant averaged 20.3 points as a rookie to rank 24th in the league, but most of his production was from the perimeter.
"It starts with confidence,” Blake said. "It was clear Kevin Durant gained some confidence as the season went on. Obviously, he can do a lot of things on the perimeter. And he can finish at the goal. He’s versatile. But if he gets in better condition, and gets stronger, his numbers could go off the charts.”
Another number showed where Durant’s game was lacking. Last year, weeks before he was selected No. 2 overall by the Sonics/Thunder, Durant was criticized for not being able to lift 185 pounds.
Durant declined to say how much he can lift 15 months later. But he has improved his strength after working with Dwight Daub, in his 12th season with the organization.
Daub, the team’s assistant coach for athletic performance, has worked in strength and conditioning for 20 years. He was a college strength and conditioning coach at Arizona, Utah and Illinois before joining the Sonics in 1997.
"Kevin has focused on getting bigger and stronger in addition to working on his game,” said coach P.J. Carlesimo. "Just watching him play pick-up games, his post-up game is noticeably better.