Durant Watch: Midterm Report
By Andy Denham,
11:02AM, Wed. Jan. 23, 2008
The Sonics are tail-spinning*, having dropped their last 11 games. Betcha didn’t spit up your beer hearing that news. What is surprising is the fact that this must be rubbing off on Kevin Durant who – though still head and shoulders above the rest of the rooks – is struggling as of late with his touch. His shooting percentage has dropped in January (.381**), held to a measly six points with a three for 12 effort against the Mavs and followed that up with a four for 13 performance two days later in the house that Yao built.
What the hell KD? How’s the finger? Ankle fine? Cause you're killing my fantasy team. Howsabout a little of this:
That was almost two months ago to the day. We’re due.
We dug deep for a little good news and found out that during the preseason the top 44 rooks were invited to a rookie photo shoot for NBA.com (surprisingly left out was the No. 6 overall pic, Yi Jianlian), and while there, they were polled on just that. Balloted on 10 different topics, ranging from best overall to least known (which Jianlian notched the top spot to no one’s surprise), KD took the top spot on two of the nine possible polled questions – most importantly earning his fellow newcomers overwhelming vote for best in the class.
The actual questions and largest vote-getters were as follows:
Who will be the 2007-'08 Rookie of the Year?: Kevin Durant (Seattle)
Who is the most ready to contribute right away?: Al Horford*** (Atlanta)
Who will play in the most All-Star games before his career is over?: Kevin Durant (Seattle)
Who is the most overlooked?: Nick Young (Washington)
Who is the most athletic?: Al Thorton (Clippers)
Who is the best shooter?: Morris Almond (Utah)
Who is the best defender?: Corey Brewer (Minnesota)
Who is the best playmaker?: Mike Conley (Memphis)
Who do you know the least about?: Yi Jianlian (Milwaukee)
Which NBA player are you most looking forward to playing against?: Kobe Bryant (Lakers)
Durant gained 53.5% of the votes over second place (and first draft pick overall) Greg Oden who plays for the hot Trail Blazers. You will hopefully remember Oden has yet to touch the ball, out for the season after knee surgery. That means after KD’s 23 of 44 votes the next active players behind him are Corey Brewer (T’Wolves), Acie Law (Hawks), Al Thornton (Clippers), and Durant’s teammate Jeff Green all with only two votes apiece.
Interestingly enough, the one spot his fellow frosh didn’t favor KD – which seems most obvious now – is the rookie most likely to contribute immediately. That honor went to the Hawks Al Horford who is actually a factor for the woeful Hawks, leading all frosh in boards, dominating in the paint, and cheap-shotting former Longhorns.
Back to Durant. Even stumbling at the midterm there's still no reason to doubt UT's 21st athlete to see NBA action will be the first ROY from the 40 Acres.
** As of January 22