Scott Brooks on Kevin Durant: “He is Going to Be One of the Very Special Players in This League and It’s Going to Happen Soon”November 9, 2009 – 10:01 am by Chris Fedor
When the Sonics moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City, I didn’t really know what to expect from the Thunder, but they certainly look like they are heading in the right direction. While they have struggled in the past couple of years whether it was in Seattle or in Oklahoma City, it really looks like the future is bright. First off all, the fan base has embraced NBA basketball in Oklahoma City, the General Manager has done a very nice job assembling a young nucleus that will continue to grow together and of course they have one of the best young players in the NBA that is on the brink of stardom.
A couple of years ago, Kevin Durant was the second pick in the NBA draft after Greg Oden and hindsight being 20/20, Durant probably would’ve been the better selection. Durant came into the NBA as a rookie, averaged 20 points per game and was named Rookie of the Year. Then he made improvements from his rookie season to his sophomore season a year ago and I fully expect him to do the same thing this year. Durant has a silky smooth jumper and can flat out light up the scoreboard with the best of them in the NBA. I’m not saying the Thunder are a team that should be in the conversation with some of the best teams in the NBA or even in the Western Conference, but they have a lot of young talent on the roster, a very strong core in place and they are a team that could be a surprise team and may have an outside shot at a playoff berth this season.
Scott Brooks joined KBME in Houston to talk about Kevin Durant, who he compares Durant with that is currently in the NBA, the way the team in currently constructed, the support of the fans in Oklahoma City and who the best teams in the NBA are.
On Kevin Durant development:
“I love his game. He works extremely hard at it, he’s coachable, he can score at so many spots on the floor and he’s defending…he’s trying. He’s rebounding defensively, he can block shots, and he’s long. He is very athletic for a guy who is 6’10” and he can handle the ball. I think the way he works, he is going to be one of the very special players in this league and it’s going to happen soon.”
On who Durant’s game resembles:
“You have to say Dirk (Nowitzki) has the range for the guy his size, but Kevin can get a defensive rebound and bring up the ball himself and attack the basket coast to coast or initiate our offense. He has great ball-handling skills and it’s very rare for a guy 6’10” who is able to handle the ball like he does.”
On the challenges of coaching a young team:
“I just tell the guys, I keep this game very simple for our players. I know that we have a young team, but I tell the guys that the pressure on us is play hard every night and play for each other, and I think the guys are responding. We are doing that the four games we have had. It’s kind of like the games that the Rockets have had; they have really played hard and played well together, so I expect the game tonight to be a very competitive game. Just keep it simple with our guys and fight to get better every day.”
On whether or not they need to add a big man in the middle:
“With Russell (Westbrook) he is 20 years old, James Harden is 20 years old so those guys are going to get better. Our big guys are very complimentary. I like what they do, Etan Thomas, Nick Collison, and Nenad Krstic. They are good pieces for our team right now. We definitely will improve on what we have now. As we evolve and get better there will be added pieces, but I’m excited about the team we have right now. They are very coachable kids and they work extremely hard to get better.”
On the draft picks that they have in the next couple of years:
“We got ours and Phoenix next season, so yeah we are set up pretty good. But we just have to continue to execute our game plans. I like the guys that we have. Like I said all the guys are so coachable, they work and challenge each other in practices. Our practices are so competitive, sometimes I have to stop the practice and just go home, let’s come back tomorrow, so that’s a great atmosphere we are creating in Oklahoma City.”
On the crowd in Oklahoma City embracing the Thunder:
“Very accurate, we feel like we have a great home court advantage. That Lakers game, we have never been to the playoffs, but it was about as loud as a playoff game you can possibly have, especially because it was November. Our crowd is a big part of what we do, they come out every night, we pretty much sell out every game, but it’s a live building and we are very excited about playing in the Ford Center.”
Listen to Scott Brooks on KBME in Houston with Charlie Palillo (3:50 into podcast)