OKC Thunder roundtable: Assessing Kevin Durant's MVP season

by Berry Tramel and Darnell Mayberry and Anthony Slater Published: June 17, 2014

The Oklahoman’s staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Kevin Durant.

How much better can Kevin Durant be, given the season he assembled this year?

Darnell Mayberry, Thunder beat writer: I think he’s got plenty of room to grow, and I think he’ll be the first to admit that. Durant can be a better and more consistent defender, especially off the ball, he can develop his post-up game, rebound better, take better care of the ball, especially when driving to the basket in traffic, and he can impose his will more often. Each of those things individually could take his game to higher levels. Add them together and there’s no telling what Durant could do. But he might not beef up all those areas and blend them together for another three to four seasons. Then and only then will he truly be at his best.

Anthony Slater, Thunder beat writer: In that impressive mid-January run, when the Thunder ran roughshod on the league even without Russell Westbrook, Durant played a level of basketball we’ve rarely seen. He broke legendary scoring marks on what seemed like a nightly basis, while spraying out a career-high number of assists and also making an impact on the other end. It’s hard to imagine him much better than we saw in that stretch. So now, his goal is to find that gear and extend it for an entire season, particularly the playoffs, where we didn’t see near that level of dominance.

Berry Tramel, Columnist: Marginally better. Most players are better at 26 than at 25. Durant was better at 25 than at 24. He should peak around 27-28. So we’ve got a couple more seasons of Durant improving before he plateaus. But it won’t be remarkable gains. Guys that good don’t have huge upsides. They’re already on the upper side of upside.

What impressed you most about Durant’s MVP season?

Mayberry: The midseason stretch without Westbrook. Durant played 26 of those games and averaged 35 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 0.7 blocks and had shooting percentages of 52.7 (field goal), 39.9 (3-point) and 87.8 (free throw) over that stretch. He went on an absolute tear without Westbrook and carried the Thunder to a 20-6 record in that time. He helped the Thunder stay near the top of the standings through the All-Star break, and he showed that he does indeed have another level he can always go to.

Slater: The entire thing. The dominant runs without Westbrook, the ability to adapt when he came back, the scoring records he broke, the consistency in which he got buckets (41 straight games with 25 points). Really, just the fact that, at 25, he clearly won it in a season where arguably the league’s greatest talent remained at the top of his powers. LeBron James didn’t have a bad year. The media wasn’t tired of voting for the King. Durant was just better. He did more. He demanded attention and took the award. That’s impressive.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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