Scott Howard-Cooper says KD’s not at the top yet: “Sorry. Great development last season, superb character, ideal work ethic, sparkling world championships. But Kevin Durant is not the best player in the world yet, no matter how many people are trying to use the Team USA gold in Istanbul to catapult him past LeBron James and/or Kobe Bryant. And this comes from someone who had been firmly seated on the Thunder bandwagon long before last season (and is a cheerleader for OKC itself). Hate how James handled himself the past couple months, condemn Bryant’s behavior years ago, but they’re the leaders, not Durant. “You better slow down a little bit,” is the message from one veteran exec to anyone pushing KD to the front of the class.”
Darnell Mayberry: “Under any other set of circumstances, Russell Westbrook would have returned home from the 2010 FIBA World Championship last week with a heap of hype to accompany his gold medal. Instead, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s point guard remains in the most peculiar of positions, brutally lodged somewhere between Kevin Durant’s shadow and a short list of players primed to explode onto the national scene. Welcome to the life of Westbrook.”
Evans Clinchy of NESN.com says KD is winning the MVP: “Durant will win because he’s leading a great team. The Thunder won 50 games last season, earning a No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. But with all their core guys young and rapidly improving, a leap forward this year to 55 or even 60 wins is definitely in play. If the Thunder compete for the best record in the West next season, you can expect voters to reward that. Durant’s the biggest reason why OKC has a chance to reach the top. Durant will win because it’s a great story. While LeBron was televising his decision and stabbing Cleveland in the back this summer, Durant was quietly signing a five-year, $55 million contract extension to stay in Oklahoma City. He’s the most modest NBA superstar we’ve ever seen, and the media loves it. He doesn’t need to toot his own horn when writers and analysts across America are doing it for him. Durant has the country on his side. In short, Durant will win his first MVP next spring because now is his time. The belt will be passed along one more time, and it’s Durant’s turn to wear it with pride.”
Dime has Kevin Durant as the top fantasy small forward: “He somehow managed to exceed expectations last season and is now the indisputable No. 1 pick of fantasy basketball. KD had a phenomenal summer with Team USA, showing off his unstoppable scoring skills to the whole world, and at the jaw-dropping age of 22 later this month, it’s clear that we’ve only scraped the surface of his brilliance. Hold onto your butts – this is going to be one helluva ride.”
The best big three in the league is in OKC? Yeah, I don’t know about that.
Mayberry on KD’s evolution: “Since the first-round exit at the hands of the eventual back-to-back champion Lakers, Durant has been on a two-part mission. Act I: Become a better player. Act II: Turn those doubters into believers. Check. And check. No one is questioning Durant any longer. His performance in the FIBA World Championship squashed questions of Durant’s leadership and big-game moxie. Durant’s physical play against Russians, Greeks and Turks remedied all remaining suspicion that he might be too soft to battle through the brunt of playoff basketball.”