The Players’ Choice
Posted Aug 3 2007 12:04PM
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 NBA.com 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.
NBA.com: So, you're the top choice for Rookie of the Year in our Rookie Survey. Why do you think that is?
NBA.com: 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?
NBA.com: Do you and Jeff need to get used to each other a bit playing Summer League?
NBA.com: So, you feel like you know where each other wants the ball?
NBA.com: Where's your favorite place on the floor to have the ball?
NBA.com: 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?
NBA.com: It helped that you had some smaller defenders on you too.
NBA.com: What about the Knicks. Were they being a little more physical with you?
NBA.com: What kind of feedback did the coaching staff give you after Summer League was done?
NBA.com: How about on the defensive end of the floor?
NBA.com: Was the way you played in the USA Basketball scrimmage a nice boost of confidence for you?
NBA.com: Is there any advice that those veterans gave you that stands out?