Whether you like him or not, Bill Simmons has kind of become the authoritative voice on the NBA. And I generally trust him and enjoy what he has to say. And when he writes about Kevin Durant and the Thunder, I find it important. Here’s what he said in today’s mailbag:
Q: If you could go back in time “Lost”-style and fix the 2007 lottery so the Celtics landed the second pick, would you keep what happened (No. 5 pick, KG trade, 2008 title, everything else that happened up to now), or would you switch it so that they ended up with the No. 2 pick and Durant?
–Dr. Bill Simmons, Boston
SG: OK, I fibbed that one. My dad asked me that on the phone this week. And we both came to the same conclusion pretty quickly: You’d have to go with Durant. Have you seen what he’s doing for the Zombies lately? Thirty a night, eight boards, 50 percent shooting, nails his free throws … just eerie, Gervin-like consistency for a young team that doesn’t have another reliable scorer, and if that’s not enough, he’s the single best teammate in the league other than LeBron. Barring injury, he’s going to win this year’s scoring title (he’d be the youngest ever by two years) and could be looking at a historic 35 ppg, 10 rpg, 50/40/90 percentage season soon. I don’t see how you pass that up. And if you remember, the 2007 Celts had a decent nucleus in place already (Al Jefferson, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Paul Pierce, Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract, the rights to Minnesota’s No. 1) and easily could have turned a couple of those assets into Pau Gasol a couple of months later.
Here’s the best analogy: You know in football when a team kicks a field goal, only there’s a penalty, and they have the option of wiping the points off the board but getting four new downs? It’s usually a horrible idea to wipe the points off unless you have someone on the Brady-Manning-Brees level as your quarterback. Too risky otherwise. For a redo of the 2007 lottery scenario, you would wipe three points off the board (in this case, an NBA title), grab Durant and go for seven points (the possibility of multiple titles and 15-plus years of a potential pantheon guy). You have to.
One more note: This is something like my 10th or 11th year with NBA Season Pass. I have never gotten attached to a non-Celtics team before, and I’ve never played favorites if there were multiple non-Boston games happening at the same time. This year? I find myself gravitating to Zombies games night after night. It’s a real team. They like one another. They’re better as a group than they are as individuals. And Durant is the most special non-LeBron talent in basketball. Not only is there nobody like him, but there’s also never been anyone like him. He’s an original prototype.
You know how many times I read that? Three. Three times. It’s just so lovely. But think about that kind of high praise. First off, Simmons says Thunder basketball is must-see-TV. (Too bad ESPN and TNT don’t see it that way.) But here you have a guy that is willing to forgo a title for his team in order to possess a player we currently have on our team. If that doesn’t tell you how good KD is, well, then you should really start watching Thunder games. And if that doesn’t make you scream like a 14-year-old girl at a Jonas Brothers concert, then you have no heart.
Here’s KD’s line since Dec. 22: 32.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 53 percent from the field, 54 percent from 3, 88 percent from the line. Add to that the 23-game streak, the fact his team is 15-8 in that span and oh yeah, that’s he’s 21 freaking years old and well, you should be changing your pants by now. It’s getting really old when people try and remind us that we’ve got something really special here in OKC, but people, WE’VE GOT SOMETHING SPECIAL.