Kevin Durant’s star is rising. That’s obvious. He absolutely ruled All-Star Weekend, he’s got a lot of folks chattering about what he could be and his stock has risen so high that there are whisperings of “LeBron or Durant?” debates. His team is now in the thick of the Western Conference, he’s chasing a record Michael Jordan has and he has a chance to lead the NBA in scoring.
But nobody is seeing it. I’ve heard some of the national talk about Durant and even down at All-Star Weekend and a lot of it was, “Yeah, he’s a scorer, but what else does he do?” There were even people talking about his shot selection, which was an issue his rookie year. People aren’t completely understanding his evolution and improvement as a complete player because he’s not visible. It’s obvious that KD is setting the world on fire without its citizens taking notice. The reason? Nobody is seeing it happen. So I thought it might be interesting to apply Free Darko’s “Visibility Index” to Durant and compare him to some of his peers.
(What is Visibility Index you ask? It’s simple: Take this season’s attendance (both road and home), add Google hits, add this year’s All-Star vote tally, add their top price for the player’s rookie card (multiplied by 100,000), add this year’s total national television appearances (multiplied by 1,000,000) and divide it all by 1,000,000.)
I went ahead and separated each category just in case you were curious.
PLAYER Global Google Hits (Jan.) 09-10 All-Star Votes 09-10 Total Attendance TV Appearances Top Rookie Card Price
Kevin Durant 170,000 870,567 925,839 2 $19.99
Kobe Bryant 5,000,000 2,456,224 1,073,632 25 $80.00
LeBron James 5,000,000 2,549,693 1,125,388 25 $129.99
Carmelo Anthony 550,000 2,137,560 972,281 22 $89.99
Dirk Nowitzki 246,000 1,093,005 1,031,312 15 $50.00
Dwyane Wade 823,000 2,327,550 1,011,089 13 $60.00
It’s an absolute crime Oklahoma City hasn’t played on national TV more. I honestly don’t know why. NBA fans want to see them. They’re begging to get a look at one of the most exciting young teams in the league. They’ve seen enough of the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets. They’re wanting some Thunder.
This isn’t to say Durant isn’t getting his due. Most national publications have him in the top five in their early MVP balloting and he got a solid amount of All-Star votes for a third-year player. But in terms of global recognition, he’s lacking. A lot of it has to do with his playing in a forgotten NBA town. Oklahoma City isn’t quite the household name like Dallas, Los Angeles or Denver. And plus, Durant’s team hasn’t been successful until recently.
Don’t get me wrong though, this isn’t an Oklahoma City problem. It’s not about the market size. It’s more to do with the incredible rapid improvement of the Thunder and Durant. People weren’t expecting to be talking about KD as an MVP so soon. People weren’t thinking about the Thunder as a legit contender. The recognition is surely coming, but just not right now.
Durant if making his visibility rise. He’s forcing people to take notice. He’s in commercials, he’s making All-Star teams and he’s gathering the attention of the media. A playoff run will get him some serious exposure that will likely lead to more visibility next year. But right now, Kevin Durant is absolutely tearing up the NBA and not enough people are getting to appreciate it.