Two years ago, the NBA had its most anticipated rookie class in ages, mostly due to two rookies. When Kevin Durant and Greg Oden came out in 2007, the race to get them was even bigger than the playoff race. Some teams may have tried to lose more to get the first or second draft pick, like the Boston Celtics when they were in the basement. Now Durant and Oden are in the NBA, but don’t have much of a chance to shine in the spotlight, for various reasons. Kevin Durant fixed that by taking over the first big event of NBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix.
Kevin Durant powered the NBA’s sophomore players to a win over the NBA’s best rookies in the NBA Rookie-Challenge. Durant set a record for the exhibition game with 46 points, as the sophomores needed all of them for a 122-116 win.
Durant broke the record of 36 points by Phoenix’ own Amare Stoudemire, who is almost overshadowing All-Star Weekend in Phoenix now with constant trade rumors.
Durant set his own record with four three pointers, going 8-for-8 in free throws, and hitting 17-of-25 shots overall. The rookies tried to keep up with Miami Heat progeny Michael Beesley leading the way with 29 points.
Kevin Durant got to put on a showcase with the entire NBA watching, for once. Since getting drafted by the Seattle Sonics in 2007, Durant has put up impressive numbers for a team that is not only in the basement, but one that has changed homes.
Durant only had one year in Seattle before the Sonics moved to become the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason. Although the Thunder have been in the basement all season, Durant has improved on his Rookie of the Year numbers from last year, scoring over 25 points a game.
Though Durant has lived up to his heavy hype, being on a bad team in a brand new NBA market hasn’t gotten him the hype he had when he came out of Texas. But his partner in the 2007 rookie class, Greg Oden, has had it much worse for the Portland Trail Blazers.
Injuries cost Oden his rookie season, and have also hampered his sophomore year, as Oden has mostly come off the bench for the playoff-contending Blazers. Another injury kept Oden from playing for the rookies in last night’s rookie challenge.
The NBA All-Star Weekend continues with more skills challenges, including the always heavily-anticipated Slam Dunk Challenge, before the All-Star Game itself on Sunday night.
Los Angeles Times- “Kevin Durant leads sophomores past rookies” www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-nba-all-star-notes14-2009feb14,0,5644243.story
NBA.com- “Kevin Durant Info Page” www.nba.com/playerfile/kevin_durant/