By Royce Young
Pete Maravich was a five-time All-Star for the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Jazz. It’s indisputable – he’s one of the greatest point guards ever. He was exciting, he was talented and he was flashy. He could pass and score. He was the total package. But only one of those teams finished the season with a winning record (46-36, 1972-73). He made the team in his third year because his numbers were so gaudy that there was no way you could say no. So a precedent has been set – a great player on a bad team can go to the All-Star game.
With All-Star reserves being announced Thursday, it seems the basketball world is split on Kevin Durant. Some think he’s a year or two off, mainly because he’s on a 10-win team. Some say he’s ready now, regardless of the team’s record. Well, you can put me in camp No. 2 – he’s an All-Star now.
Both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were All-Stars in their second season. LeBron had ridiculous numbers: 27.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 7.2 apg. How can you say no to that? But Kobe made it more or less because or hype. His team was good (lost in the Western Finals to the Jazz) but he was just getting 26 minutes a game and averaging 15.4 ppg, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Now we all know Durant’s awesome numbers. (24.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.6 apg, in case you forgot.) He’s one of just nine players that are leading their team in both points and rebounds (Chris Bosh, LeBron, Dwight Howard, Antwan Jamison, Dirk Nowitzki, Yao, Tim Duncan, Al Jefferson, Carlos Boozer). He’s in pretty good company there. He does everything for his team. He’s improved every facet of his game and is putting together one of the best seasons ever for a 20-year-old.
Forget the fact his numbers are closer to 26 points and eight rebounds since the end of November. Forget that he’s shooting 47 percent, 42 percent and 86 percent from the field, three and the free throw line. Forget that he’s clearly the best player on his team and that opponents key on him like he Jimmy Chitwood. All that aside even, he’s still and All-Star. It’s the game for the league’s best players. And KD is clearly one of them.