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Hard-working Durant makes impressive debut
NBA Summer League
Rookie of the Year keeps playing and playing ...

By Tony Mejia Published: July 9, 2008
MAITLAND, Fla. — The most deliberated topic during Tuesday's action in the Orlando Summer League centered around the availability of Kevin Durant.

Why would the reigning Rookie of the Year dress out? Why would he dare play?

After three quarters in which Oklahoma City ran Orlando's summer league ragged, taking an 81-50 advantage in an eventual 100-77 win, the answer was obvious. Durant has too much fun being out on the floor to keep him off it.

"If he wasn't playing basketball here, he'd be playing somewhere else,” said general manager Sam Presti, who was aware that reigning Rookies of the year tend not to bother with summer league play. "It's not like we're forcing him. With Kevin, if there's a ball bouncing, it's a good bet he'll find his way into the game.”

Presti found that out the hard way this summer. During his meeting with Durant after the end of the regular season in April, he stressed the importance of getting rest after his first full run as a professional. Within a week, he was getting reports from all over the country that Durant was working out and playing pickup ball. One day, he was back in his native Maryland competing against friends, the next on Georgetown's campus working out with teammate Jeff Green.

On July 4, while most people were scouting out fireworks, Presti found himself in Austin, watching Durant work out as if the regular season were weeks away instead of months away. Durant was in two-a-day mode, waking at 6:30 to lift weights, then shooting around in the afternoon.

Durant has a problem: He's a workaholic. From Oklahoma City's perspective, when you're watching a team being built from the ground up, it's a good problem to have.

"I just can't come to the gym and sit on the sidelines,” Durant admitted. "It was a bonehead move on my part not to bring my shoes.”

That problem was easily rectified. Durant received his size 18s early Tuesday and was ready to go once tip-off began, joining the starting lineup. Durant had gotten his way.

In truth, everyone affiliated with the OKC TBDs were anxious to see what their core is going to look like and didn't want to wait simply because conventional wisdom dictated that they should. Durant was here. He was willing. As a result, management was willing to gamble on Durant avoiding a freak injury that would've opened the door to second-guessing.

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Kevin Durant, left, drives past the Magic's Kevin Kruger during Summer League action on Tuesday in Orlando, Fla. By Jacob Langston, Orlando Sentinel


Orlando…15181727 — 77

Oklahoma City…29223019 — 100

Orlando — Courtney Lee 27, James Augustine 10, Marcin Gortat 10, Derrick Byers 7, Antywane Robinson 7, Cliff Hammonds 5, D'or Fischer 4, Kevin Kruger 3, Justin Reed 2, Russell Carter 2.

OKC — Jeff Green 28, Kevin Durant 22, Russell Westbrook 19, Rhonald Dupree 9, Justin Williams 6, D.J. White 5, Mykal Riley 4, Nick Lewis 3, Devin Green 2, Ronell Taylor 2.


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