May 31, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) warms up before the game against the San Antonio Spurs in game three of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
The power within Kevin Durant is the power to score on anyone, any time, under any conditions.
It takes two to tango, and half of the reason that these NBA Finals -- with the Heat leading 3-1, with a chance to clinch the franchise's second NBA championship on Thursday -- have been so incredibly compelling has been because Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have come to play. Westbrook is an enigma all his own, but KD has been rather excellent consistently, and especially late in games. In the Finals, he's averaged better than 30 points while shooting an excellent 55 percent from the floor and 37 percent from beyond the arc. As great as Westbrook has been -- and that Game 4 was straight-up spectacular -- Durant has hit four fewer field goals than Westbrook ... while taking 20 fewer attempts.
This is what Durant does: he scores like few others in recent memory. You don't win three scoring titles by age 23 by fluke. Even in these trying games against the best player in the world (LeBron James), against a defense that is laying everything on the floor, Durant is scoring like pinball wizard with a pocket full of coins. This is what he does. It's what he did for USA Basketball at the 2010 FIBA World Championships, too, and it's what he'll likely do for USA Basketball in the 2012 Olympics in London.
The 2010 Worlds was sort of an introduction to top international competition for Durant and the new class of NBA stars, including Derrick Rose, Westbrook, Rudy Gay and Kevin Love. The major stars of the 2008 Olympic team sat out the campaign, and many of them, including LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, expect to be back in London. But there are a couple of 2010 alums that will be joining them to make up a hybrid old-new squad, and KD is No. 1 on that list with a bullet.
Durant ended up as the No. 3 scorer in the tournament with 22 points per game, behind Argentina's Luis Scola and New Zealand's Kirk Penney. A player from Team USA finishing so high on the scoring table at major competitions is rare simply because Team USA has so many scorers and the coaches tend to do a good job spreading out the shots. (In 2006, for example, top scoring 'Melo was No. 6 in the tournament behind a fella named Carlos Arroyo.) That Durant was able to take over the way he did in Turkey on a team with two dominant scoring point guards and a slew of high-octane players despite sharing the ball and minutes shows that nothing can stop KD's attack mode. Nothing.
He'll be one of three brilliant small forward scorers in London, with LeBron and 'Melo. Chances are he'll lead them all in points. (Seriously, after watching Durant and LeBron in the Finals, and imagining them together in London, playing on the same team for the first time ever? Oh my God. I feel sorry for you, World.) He'll do what he does in the NBA: shoot accurately as a Marine messing with Call of Duty, create space like he's a tank in a bamboo forest and make defenders look silly as an elk at the movies. The power within Kevin Durant is the power to score at any time, in any conditions, against whoever he wants. He'll be doing just that in London.