Kevin Durant wasn’t named to the All-Star team Thursday night when Western Conference reserves were announced. It might be the last time Durant isn’t an All-Star.
“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.” Durant is only 20. Compared to other NBA All-Stars before they reached their 21st birthday, Durant’s career is off to a much better start than most, the reason many believe he will be one of the league’s premier scorers for years to come. Similar to a golfer who shoots his age, it’s rare when an NBA player’s career scoring average is higher than his age. Durant already is sixth in the league in scoring (24.7). He’s 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. Because Durant is averaging close to 25 points as a skinny 20-year-old budding star, it’s not unrealistic to speculate the Washington, D.C., product could average 30 or more points later in his career. He’s not that far off that pace in January (27.7). “I’ve heard people say if he doesn’t make it this year he will be (an All-Star) for years to come,” Durant said. “As a competitor, as a player I want things to happen as soon as possible. If I’m playing like an All-Star I should be in the All-Star Game. Sometimes that may not happen.” Durant gave a glimpse of his long-term potential in Wednesday’s win over Memphis. After making a costly turnover in the waning seconds of regulation, a key play that allowed the Grizzlies rally to force overtime, Durant dominated the overtime period. “Kevin will get stronger physically,” Thunder coach Scott 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.