May 31, 2011
After only four years in the NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant(notes) is well-established as one of the best offensive players in the league. He has won back-to-back scoring titles, provided an offensive anchor for a young team still looking for a concrete identity, and just happened to lead his team to a conference finals appearance.
Of course, that's not to say that he's a perfect player, even at the offensive end. Listed at 6-9 and just 230 pounds (and probably at least two inches taller), Durant has plenty of room on his frame to add some muscle. And it turns out that's exactly his plan for this summer. From Gary Washburn in the Boston Globe (via PBT):
Durant is a tireless worker, but his slight frame became a detriment during the postseason. He wasn't able to post up shorter, stronger defenders, and his mid-range game suffered as a result.
"I could get stronger and go from there,'' he said. "I realize I'm not going to be 250 and cut up, but I could get stronger. I have a lot to work on, and it might sound crazy, but I'm ready to get to work now.''
Durant is a basketball obsessive, so it's not terribly surprising that he would look to improve his game in any way possible. He recognizes he has some gaps in what he can do on the court and will do his best to correct them.
It is interesting, though, to realize that Durant has accomplished as much as he has while still being very much a work-in-progress. Washburn notes that Durant doesn't really post up smaller opponents, but he also sometimes has a tough time getting open on the perimeter and doesn't always effectively lose his man off good screens. That Durant has won two scoring titles with these issues is something of a marvel. It's not hard to imagine him averaging 35 points per game at some point in his career.
Plus, he's committed to his craft, which suggests that these problems won't remain for long. Somehow, Durant is nowhere near his prime.