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Durant Dazzles in Pre-Draft Workout

By Jim Taylor
TrailBlazers.com


Podcast: Friday's Press Conference with Kevin Durant.

Tualatin, OR ó The debate rages on. Oden or Durant? Honk once, honk twice, honk as many times as you like because after Kevin Durantís impressive showing at his Friday morning workout, itís probably only going to add fuel to the fire as to who the Portland Trail Blazers should pick first in next weekís NBA Draft.

"That was an incredible workout," said Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard. "Iíve seen probably in this building a couple of hundred workouts and that was as impressive as any workout Iíve seen in here."

The hour-long session at the Trail Blazers training facility in Tualatin showcased the incredible perimeter skills that helped earn Durant the Associated Press NCAA Player of the Year Award last year as a freshman at the University of Texas.

"I was telling one of the scouts that I slept real good last night and now Iím not so sure Iím going to sleep again until draft day," joked Pritchard.

Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan added, "Both guys have amazing talent, and unlike Kevin (Pritchard), I didnít sleep a wink last night. I donít know why I was so nervous last night, but I was up all night thinking about this workout. Kevin is a talented player and he does a lot and heíll bring in an awful lot to a team."

Drawing a comparison between Durantís workout to that of Ohio Stateís Greg Oden earlier in the week is difficult since the two have decidedly different games. Oden is a force to be reckoned with in the paint, while Durantís outside game and versatility is almost otherworldly.

"Youíre looking at a guy who is a physical specimen in Greg versus a very skilled guy in Kevin, so the comparisons are very difficult and that makes our job a little more difficult because weíre not comparing apples to apples," said Pritchard. "When you look at Kevin you think the kid is built to play basketball. Heís long. Heís athletic. Heís committed to being a great player and what we saw really impressed us today."

The Trail Blazers basketball staff will have dinner with Durant tonight to get a better appreciation for Durant the person, but in what theyíve seen in both players so far, team management seems convinced that both fit the teamís culture and character.

"Now weíre trying to find who gets us to a championship," added Pritchard.

While many consider Oden a lock to be Portlandís first pick, the decision might not be so easy after Durantís stellar performance Friday. Versatility vs. big. Outside vs. inside. The Trail Blazers have a need for both.

"There really is nothing he canít do on the basketball court," said Pritchard of Durant. "He handles the ball. He shoots it from deep. Nate and I were talking. He could be a pick and roll player. You donít see many 6-10 primary ball handlers that can play pick and roll. So, yes, there were some things we saw out there that maybe we didnít see in a game and thatís what the workout is for. We were surprised a little bit by what he can do."

Portlandís final decision may very well come down to draft day on June 28th as Pritchard and the basketball staff have vowed from the beginning to keep an open mind in the evaluation process of the top two players available in this yearís draft.

"Weíre going to have a healthy debate," explained Pritchard. "I can tell you this, there is not a consensus nor do we want a consensus right now. I think we owe it to ourselves to have a very lively debate. To disagree about some things and to agree about some things and then ultimately unite in a decision."

The final decision on which player Portland will pick rests with Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, who was equally wowed by Durantís workout.

"Both of these players are so young. You have to try and project 3, 4 or 5 years from now and think about what kind of team you can build around them with the players we have and the players we may be able to get in the future," said Allen. "You look at Kevin Durant and you think he might be able to lead the league in scoring before too many years are passed. You think about Greg Oden and how you might have the top center in the league in a few years, so those are very very exciting prospects either way we end up making our decision."

While the decision to draft Oden or Durant may be an agonizing one for Allen, itís clear heís having fun and is excited about the future direction of his young Trail Blazers team.

ďItís just going to be so much fun in the Rose Garden the next few years,Ē said Allen. ďIím just about jumping out of my skin just waiting for summer league to start.Ē
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