Sonics' Durant next in line for stardom
‘We're going to allow him to be himself'

By Darnell Mayberry Published: October 28, 2007
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"A
nd then it's good to have his teammates be very supportive of him, because with him being such a young player, it's important to try to lead him in the right direction and steer him away from the wrong crowd.”

Hornets coach Byron Scott, who nurtured Paul in his first two seasons, warns that good character teammates with integrity, compassion and drive are just as important.

"What we had to do (with Paul) was surround him with quality people on the court,” Scott said. "The off-the-court things I thought were taken care of a long time ago by his parents. They did a terrific job of raising him.”

Paul, who is good friends with Durant, said the Sonics will have to win in order for Durant to realize his star potential. Paul said one of Durant's biggest challenges on the court will be having teammates that might look to him too much sometimes because of his talents.

"I think he'll be successful,” Paul said. "He's one of those guys (who) know how to play the game. It's going to be a struggle from the get-go, but he'll find it.”

But no one doubts Durant's on-court success. Presti called him "a great talent who continues to grow each time he steps on the floor.”

"You've seen some guys come in the NBA and thrive and really play well, and for other guys it's a little bit overwhelming,” said Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo. "But I look at a guy like Kevin Durant and it's hard for me to imagine him not taking advantage of the opportunity to get the kinds of minutes that young guys don't get in this league.”

Developing Durant's talents, however, will take some doing.

Silas said he set up one-on-one film sessions with James to increase his knowledge of the game.

"He has to become a student of the game, and that's what I did with LeBron,” Silas said. "I was very patient with him, but I made sure that his understanding of the game increased as time went on. Because with great athletes, you assume that they know everything right away and they don't.”

Under Silas, James averaged 39.5 minutes in his rookie season. Under Scott, Paul averaged 36. Carlesimo will take the same approach, letting Durant make mistakes and learn on the court.

"That can be a great learning experience,” Carlesimo said.

What Durant does from there is up to him.

"The on-the-court things, I don't think that's going to necessarily be a problem because he's a very talented young man,” Silas said. "He shoots the ball well, and he'll continue to learn. But it's the off-the-court things that I think he has to adjust to, and the mental part of the game. If he does that he's going to be nothing but successful.”



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The Kevin Durant file
•Position: Shooting guard/small forward.

•Height: 6-foot-9.

•Weight: 225.

•Of note: Earned National Player of the Year honors from every major presenter... First Team All-American... Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year... Averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds last season at Texas... Taken with the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft by the Sonics after Portland picked Greg Oden.

Projecting Durant
The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry projects Kevin Durant's rookie statistics.

Stat At Texas Projected
Points 25.8 18.7
Rebs 11.1 7.4
Assists 1.3 3.3
Steals 1.8 1.1
Blocks 1.6 0.7
TOs 2.8 2.9
Min 35.9 37.5

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