You’re not going to forget about Kevin Durant for much longer.
The No. 2 pick in the 2007 draft, a player the Celtics likely would have drafted if they had had the second pick that year, Durant is quietly beginning to put up the all-around numbers he was known for during his one season at Texas.
It’s not as if last season was a disaster for Durant. His Seattle team (now Oklahoma City) was terrible, but Durant managed to earn NBA Rookie of the Year honors while averaging 20 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block per game. He was also playing out of position, although for a reason: In order to take pressure off Durant, then-coach P.J. Carlesimo insisted on playing his young star at shooting guard.
Durant wasn’t a good fit playing the “two.” Some of his skills, like rebounding and shot-blocking, were negated because he was standing around on the perimeter, heaving up jumpers on offense, or guarding smaller players on defense. However, Carlesimo was fired in late November, and interim coach Scott Brooks’ first decision was to move Durant from shooting guard to small forward.
The results have been terrific, and that obviously translates as a plus for fantasy owners. In December, Durant is averaging 25 points, seven rebounds, and three assists, and he’s had three games in December of three or more blocks, too. Most impressive, in the 10 games since Dec. 8, when he unloaded on Golden State for 41 points, Durant has scored less than 25 points only twice, and in those instances he went for 22 and 24 points.
The fact that Oklahoma City is possibly the worst team in the NBA is actually a boon for those with Durant on their fantasy squads. He’s the Thunder’s best player, and he doesn’t get cheated when it comes to shot attempts: Durant is eighth in the league in field goals attempted per game at 18.6 (Dwyane Wade leads at 21.1), and he’s been heaving 20 attempts per game in his last seven. What’s more, he’s getting to the free throw line six times per game, which is respectable but should improve over time.
With Oklahoma City often playing from behind and Durant finally playing his natural position, he’s suddenly becoming one of the most valuable players in fantasy basketball. I’m trying desperately to trade for him, and I’m making a mental note for next season that he’s likely not going to last past the first round of the draft. This season, he was a steal in my league in the third round.
Ed Ryan writes about fantasy sports and betting for OT and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This week's OT cover
OT beat writersMaureen Mullen brings you Red Sox information and insights.
Tom Wilcox covers the Patriots.
Scott Souza is all over the Celtics.
Danny Picard is on the ice with the Bruins.
Mike McDonald takes a look at the humorous side of Boston sports