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Thunder's Kevin Durant an All-Star in the making

BY MIKE BALDWIN Modified: January 30, 2009 at 4:49 am •  Published: January 30, 2009
Kevin Durant wasn’t named to the NBA’s Western Conference All-Star team on Thursday as reserves for the Feb. 15 game in Phoenix were announced.

"Just to be in the conversation for a young guy like me feels good,” Durant said. "It just pushes me to work harder and help this team get better. I’m excited to be playing in the rookie-sophomore game and be part of All-Star weekend.”

Similar to a golfer who shoots his age, it’s unusual when an NBA player’s career scoring average is higher than his age.

Durant, 20, already is ahead of other All-Stars before they reached legal drinking age.

Sixth in the league in scoring (24.7), Durant is third in the Western Conference behind only Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki, who were averaging 13.8 and 8.2 points, respectively, at the same age.

"He will improve,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "Players generally improve until they’re 30, and then they maintain what they have. Whether his scoring goes up, I don’t know. But his ability to make shots on demand will go up. His ability to get stops on demand will go up.”

Because Durant’s averaging nearly 25 points as a skinny, budding star, it’s not unrealistic to think he could average 30 at some point. He’s not far off that pace in January (27.7).

"Kevin will get stronger physically,” Brooks said. "He’s still thin. But from last year to this year (it’s been a big improvement). Last year, when he got hit, he was on the floor a lot. You don’t see him on the floor as much this year because he’s gotten stronger.”

With one game left in January — tonight’s road game at Utah — Durant is averaging 27.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and is getting to the free-throw line 8.6 times a game this month.

Youthful achievement
Breakdown of some All-Stars’ production before their 21st birthday.

Player G Pts. Avg.
LeBron James 186 4,649 25.0
Shaquille O’Neal 54 1,294 24.0
Kevin Durant 125 2,738 21.9
Carmelo Anthony 155 3,283 21.2
Kobe Bryant 200 2,755 13.8
Kevin Garnett 157 2,144 13.7
Tracy McGrady 192 2,122 11.1
Dirk Nowitzki 47 385 8.2
Durant’s 2008-09 season month-by-month
Month G Pts. Reb. FG%. FTA
Oct. 1 12.0 3.0 35.7 2.0
Nov. 16 22.9 4.1 46.1 5.9
Dec. 15 25.1 7.7 47.2 6.5
Jan. 13 27.7 8.7 49.2 8.6
Thunder at Jazz
When: 8 tonight

Where: Energy Solutions Arena, Salt Lake City

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

Live blog: blog/

Three things to know
→The Jazz is 17-6 at home but lost the last two to powers San Antonio and Cleveland.

→Utah is 27th in the league in made 3-pointers per game (4.6).

→Utah has split two meetings with the Thunder. Both teams won at home.

Probable starters

Thunder (11-35)
Pos. Player Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.
G Russell Westbrook 6-3 14.4 4.2 4.8
G Kevin Durant 6-9 24.6 6.6 2.7
F Jeff Green 6-9 16.4 6.5 2.0
F Nick Collison 6-10 7.8 6.5 0.9
C Nenad Krstic 7-0 9.0 5.5 0.7
Jazz (25-21)
Pos. Player Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.
G Deron Williams 6-3 16.9 2.8 10.2
G Ronnie Brewer 6-7 13.0 3.3 2.2
F Paul Millsap 6-8 15.6 9.7 2.0
F C.J. Miles 6-6 9.7 2.4 1.7
C Mehmet Okur 6-11 17.3 8.4 1.8


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