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Oklahoma City Thunder preview: Why Kevin Durant will remain the Minuteman

KEVIN DURANT — Only eight players in NBA history played more minutes the first four years of their career. Six are in the Hall of Fame.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, Published: December 18, 2011

Every NBA team plays at least one back-to-back-to-back stretch and some teams also play five games in six days.

The two stretches frequently are paired together and such is the case for OKC, which from Jan. 6-11 plays three straight nights against Houston, Houston and San Antonio, followed by an off day, then back-to-back games at Memphis and New Orleans.

The Thunder actually caught a break in the scheduling, facing four of the closest teams in proximity. Only Dallas is closer.

Among active players in minutes played per game, Durant is in a three-way tie for second with Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala and former Oklahoma great Blake Griffin with the Clippers. Miami's LeBron James leads the way with a 40.1 career average in minutes.

Durant averaged 28.2 minutes per game for Team USA two summers ago. Westbrook, who has averaged 33.9 minutes his first three years with the Thunder, averaged 19.4 minutes at FIBA, yet he and Durant said they felt the affects of a hectic schedule.

"That next morning I felt it," Durant said, rubbing his leg. "It wore off after a few hours, but that next morning and was kind of sore. But that's what you play the game for, man. You've got to play through it, be a professional and come to work."

Durant's minutes this season will likely remain close to 38.0. The average could dip if the Thunder has some blowouts, but a minute or two here or there don't figure to make much difference.

"I think my adrenalin is going to push me through the whole season, probably," Durant said.