SECAUCUS, NJ, August 3, 2007 -- Greg Oden was the No. 1 pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, and most believe he'll prove to be the right choice for the long-term. After all, he's a seven-footer with the skills that could make him one of the best centers in recent memory. It's hard to pass on a player like that.

But from the time he won the No. 1 pick at the Lottery until the day of the draft, Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard maintained that Oden was not such an obvious choice. If you believe him, he seriously considered taking Kevin Durant with the pick. And there were probably a few Blazer fans out there that would have preferred Durant.

When we conducted the first ever Rookie Survey, 23 of the 44 rookies we polled said that Durant would win Rookie of the Year, while no other player received more than five votes.

If you think about it, it makes sense. With Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen gone, Durant will be the star of the Sonics from Day 1. He will have his ball in his hands on almost every possession. And while Seattle may struggle this season, Rookie of the Year voters rarely take team record into account.

But the rookies also favored Durant to go to more All-Star games in his career than anyone else in his class. So, it's more than just his team's situation that they like about the kid from the University of Texas.

As one rookie put it, "Have you seen that boy play? His touch is something else."

Indeed, to watch Durant play is to witness a collection of offensive skills that doesn't come around often. He can score from anywhere on the floor, in a myriad of ways. And he has been described to have the mentality of an assassin when he's on the floor, a cold-bloodedness that we have seen in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. We witnessed it in games against Texas Tech and Kansas last season.

So, while Oden always felt like the safe pick, there's something in Kevin Durant that intrigues us, that makes us want him on our team, and that makes us want to get inside his head to see exactly how he ticks.

I sat down with Durant at last Friday's Rookie Photo Shoot for a brief conversation about being the man in Seattle, his Summer League experience and playing well in the USA Basketball scrimmage. So, you're the top choice for Rookie of the Year in our Rookie Survey. Why do you think that is?
Kevin Durant: I wish I could tell you. I don't know. It's an honor for my classmates to think I'll be Rookie of the Year, but I'm not looking for that. I'm just looking to get better. With Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen both leaving the Sonics, what do you think of the personnel situation in Seattle right now? It's almost like it's a blank page and they're staring over by building around you. Do you feel any pressure in that respect?
Kevin Durant: They did the same thing in college. So, I don't think there's any pressure on me. It's a great opportunity for me and Jeff [Green] to come in, play a lot of minutes right away and contribute to the team right away. Hopefully, we'll do well. Do you and Jeff need to get used to each other a bit playing Summer League?
Kevin Durant: We gotta get used to each other, but overall, we played well together. He was in the post ... I was on the wing. I was in the post ... he was on the wing. So, we complemented each other pretty well. So, you feel like you know where each other wants the ball?
Kevin Durant: We got accustomed to each other's games in those six or seven games we played together. And that's only going to help throughout the year. Where's your favorite place on the floor to have the ball?
Kevin Durant: Either the wing or the block. That's the same with Jeff. He can create from the wing or the post. That's what makes him such a great player. In your first Summer League game against Dallas, you were struggling with your shot a bit, but you were still able to score in the post. Is that your safety net when your shot isn't falling?
Kevin Durant: That's where I'm going to get my easy baskets, around the rim and shooting free throws. So if my shot's not on, I try to get to the rim and get to the free throw line. It helped that you had some smaller defenders on you too.
Kevin Durant: That helps a lot. I was playing the two out there in Vegas, so I just posted up, my teammates did a great job finding me, and I got easy baskets. What about the Knicks. Were they being a little more physical with you?
Kevin Durant: Every team was physical. I just couldn't find my shot in that game. What kind of feedback did the coaching staff give you after Summer League was done?
Kevin Durant: They said I got better and better each and every game. And I got more confident each game. How about on the defensive end of the floor?
Kevin Durant: They think I improved a lot on the defensive end. I had to check the best player in Summer League, Belinelli. I think I did a good job on him, as far as limiting his shots. Still, he shot a lot. He's a great player, but I just had to make it tough, and I think I did that. I just put a hand up, and he missed a lot of his shots. My coaches just told me to keep going from there. Was the way you played in the USA Basketball scrimmage a nice boost of confidence for you?
Kevin Durant: It was a boost of confidence, yeah. But I know that I gotta keep playing hard and keep working hard, and I know that good things will come out of it. Is there any advice that those veterans gave you that stands out?
Kevin Durant: Just always to work hard, always have fun with the game, and never disrespect the game. Always respect the game, respect your opponents and thing will go well for you.