The Oklahoma City Thunder are to the worst start since the 2008-2009, Kevin Durant’s second year in the NBA. Because OKC is such a top heavy team, KD and Russell Westbrook seem to carry most of the offensive load on a nightly basis. With injuries to both guys in 2014, it made it tough for the team’s role players to ever get comfortable with a suddenly bigger role.
Maybe no stat shows the lack of continuity than OKC’s 30th ranked 18.7 assists per game. No Patrick Ewing Effect here.
Here is what you need to know about Kevin Durant in 2014:
1. Kevin Durant Becomes A Free Agent In 2016
Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder is under contract until the end of the 2015-2016 NBA season. His current contract is paying him roughly 40 million over the next 2 seasons. We have seen All-Star caliber franchise players like Kevin Love, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard all change teams within the past two years, so it wouldn’t be crazy to suggest Durant may leave OKC in 2016 when his contract expires.
There have been rumors swirling about a possible return to his home in Washington D.C to play for the Wizards. Even the Zen Master (Phil Jackson) said he would make a play for Durant to join the Knicks in 2016.
2. Durant Made His Season Debut Last Week
With an NBA offseason filled with so much hype and drama, one unfortunate subplot was Kevin Durant’s foot injury. He was diagnosed with a Jones Fracture in his foot, and according to the team’s medical staff, it could sideline the reigning MVP for 6-8 weeks.
Fast Forward to the first week in December.
Kevin Durant surprised a lot of experts by returning to the lineup in a road game at New Orleans. It seems like the initial timetable has been slightly shortened. Rotoworld.com initially reported that a return was tentatively scheduled for late December. Some players in the past have rushed back from an injury like this and done more damage to the foot, resulting in an early end to the season. This specific kind of fracture has even ended some players’ careers.
3. The Thunder are at the Bottom of the Western Conference
With the surprising return of Kevin Durant on December 2nd, Oklahoma City was going to have to rely on the talents of guard Russell Westbrook to carry the offensive workload. However, Westbrook caught the injury bug when he fractured his shooting hand in a losing effort against the Clippers on October 30th. The team had now lost its two leading scorers from last year and at times looked as bad as the 76ers.
This 5-13 team is in serious danger of missing the playoffs in an absolutely loaded Western Conference that excluded a 48-win Phoenix Sun team from the playoffs last season. Now that Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are back in the lineup, there is little margin for error for this team moving forward.
Currently, OKC is 12th in the Western Conference standings.
4. KD Re-signed With Nike in the Offseason
After seven years with Nike, Kevin Durant nearly left the company for rival Under Armor in the offseason. The Oklahoma City star was reportedly offered between 265 million and 285 million from Under Armor with added incentives like stock and a community center built in his mother’s name. Ultimately, Nike increased their original offer and lured KD in with a 10-year 300 million dollar contract.
According to multiple reports, Nike proposed this mega-deal mainly because they did not want an increasingly popular brand like Under Armor, whose profits increased by 25% last year, to gain such a high profile athlete. It was more keeping him away from another company than keeping him.
The seventh edition of Durant’s shoe debuted in June.
5. Durant is the Reigning NBA MVP
The past three seasons, the only player to win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award not named LeBron James is Kevin Durant. Most basketball fans would tell you it is a clear two-way battle for the best player in the league between KD and LeBron. As a 6-10 small forward, Durant is a matchup nightmare because of his incredible shooting range mixed with an ability to attack the rim.
As a four-time scoring champion, Durant could go down as one of the greatest scorers in league history. As of this writing, he is the second youngest player to achieve 10,000 points behind LeBron James, and Durant played one year at Texas while James skipped college. He is on incredible scoring pace for his career, and fans are eager to see if he can stay hot after his 27-point season debut.