Oklahoma City Thunder: Will setbacks make Kevin Durant stronger?

The Thunder was eliminated in the second round, as a knee injury to Russell Westbrook derailed what potentially could have been a championship season. This is the third straight season that a championship-caliber Thunder team has fallen short.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 23, 2013

As a rookie, Kevin Durant stepped onto a rebuilding team.

He won just 20 games.

In his second season, following relocation, Durant and the Thunder won just 23 games.

Things grew to be pretty good from there: Durant made his playoff debut in 2010, journeyed to the Western Conference Finals in 2011 and the NBA Finals in 2012.

A pattern of yearly improvement had been established.

“The toughest part about this business once you become successful,” said Thunder guard Derek Fisher, “is replicating that and doing it over and over again.”

For the first time in his career, Durant didn't, taking a step back this season.

The Thunder was eliminated in the second round, as a knee injury to Russell Westbrook derailed what potentially could have been a championship season.

Most would agree that the 24-year-old Durant has plenty of time to cement his place among the all-time greats with a championship. But the fact remains that, regardless of the reasons, this is the third straight season that a championship-caliber Thunder team has fallen short.

In no way is that an indictment on the franchise or the strides that have been made. But rather it's an acknowledgment of just how difficult it is to reach the pinnacle of success, which raises the question of how repeated shortcomings might fuel Durant this summer.

“Of course, that's the biggest motivator,” Durant said. “You want to get back and just go as far as you can.”

Durant doesn't do bold predictions. Well, not since the summer of 2009, when he crazily but correctly proclaimed that the Thunder would be a playoff team the following season.


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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KEVIN DURANT'S 2012-13 SEASON BY THE NUMBERS

1.3: Blocks per game, a career best

3: Triple-doubles

12: Technical fouls, as many as his first five seasons combined

19: Double-doubles

30.8: Scoring average in the playoffs

51.0: Percent field-goal shooting, a career best

90.5: Percent free-throw shooting, a career best

374: Assists, a career best

3,119: Minutes played, the second most in the NBA

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