When we all talk about Kevin Durant, a lot of time we try and put something in perspective by saying, “And he’s just [insert current age].” Why? Because it’s kind of insane what he’s done and how good he is at such a young age.
Durant has played four NBA seasons and entered the league as just a 18-year-old. As a 19-year-old rookie, he averaged 20.3 points a game. As a 20-year-old sophomore, he put up 25.3 points a game. In his third year at 21 years old, he broke out averaging 30.1 points a game. And last season at the old age of 22, Durant put up 27.7 points a night. He’s one of the fastest ever to 8,000 points and has his name firmly planted on a whole lot of “youngest ever to blank” lists.
At 21, he became the youngest scoring champion in NBA history and by winning that same title last year, became the youngest two-time winner in history. He’s been elected to two All-Star teams, made two first-team All-NBA squads, won a rookie of the year, finished runner-up for MVP and has been to the postseason twice and the Western Finals once. He won a gold medal in Turkey in the World Championships, was named MVP of the tournament and is a two-time HORSE winner (OK, so that’s not impressive).
All before he turned 23. Wow.
Compare KD to some great scorers before the age of 23. Pretty impressive. (And the one guy that was taken ahead of KD in 2007.)
PLAYER SEASONS GAMES POINTS POINTS PER GAME
KEVIN DURANT 4 313 8,128 25.9
LEBRON JAMES 4 316 8,439 26.7
KOBE BRYANT 5 334 6,178 18.4
MICHAEL JORDAN 2 100 2,721 27.2
TRACY MCGRADY 5 345 6,135 17.7
GREG ODEN 4 82 773 9.4
And as Durant would tell you, he’s far from a finished product. He wants to improve his handle, his post game, become more of a passer and score more efficiently. But he’d say the same thing at 33. Kind of the way he is. That’s what makes the great ones great.
I think it’s reasonable that KD could challenge for the all-time tally in points, assuming of course he stays healthy. It’s possible. He’s got more than eight thousand points in his pocket on his 23rd birthday. Now something that would definitely hinder him is a lost or shortened season. But with good health, Durant’s going to put up 2,000 points a season for at least the next 10 years. That’s 20,000 points to go with his 8,128. That right there would put him alone in fifth and 10,000 away from Kareem.
At 23, Durant’s definitely got a legendary playoff moment on his resume with his nine straight points to ice the Nuggets in Game 5. He took over. Then he won a Game 7 against the Grizzlies where he scored 39 points. In the playoffs, Durant is averaging 27.7 ppg. Remember, that’s all before he turned 23.
The real question is, if he did all that before 23, what comes after?