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NBA PM: Durant Applying Lessons From Past
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On December 20, 2012 @ 5:03 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant is far from your average 24-year-old. He’s basically been a number one offensive option from the day he was drafted. Not shortly after, he became his team’s leader and the face of the franchise.
Now he’s one of the faces of the league and an unstoppable force offensively. The individual accolades are rolling in faster than he can accept them, but what’s driving him is his desire to be the best and win championships.
The Thunder won the Western Conference last year, but ultimately came up short on hoisting the O’Brien trophy. This year, anything short of finishing the job will be a disappointment. That’s why Durant is not getting caught up in the team’s current success. He knows in order for them to be a championship team there is still a lot of work for them to get done.
“It’s all about everyone on the team,” Durant said to HOOPSWORLD. “From the first man to the last man. That’s how we’re going to win a championship. We know how important it is for everyone to be involved. Not just the start of the finals or playoffs, but right around this time. That everyone is important, and every possession is important. We realize that. Some of the battles we’ve had in the playoffs from the last few year taught us a lesson, how everyone and every possession is important. We learned a lot, that’s why it’s been better for us this season.
“It’s just experience. Just playing at that stage. Everyone is watching you every night. The only thing on TV. The media is crazy. Just that experience of it all was different but the basketball is something I’ve been playing my whole life. It wasn’t any different on the court. It’s everything on the outside that was new to me.”
The Thunder currently sit atop the league’s standings at 21-4. A key to their success has been winning games away from home, where they are an impressive 7-2. Their ability to play on the road is another area that has benefited from the invaluable experience they’ve gained over recent years.
“We’re a veteran team,” Durant said. “We know what it takes on the road. It’s not easy coming on the road and getting W’s. We just got to stick together. I tell the guys every time before we step out on the court on the road it’s just us on the road at the arena. The 15 guys on the bench, the coaches, the guys behind us, that’s all we have. We have to stick together as a group. We’re playing well, but it’s a test when we’re not playing well. We have to stick together.”
In Durant’s eyes, the Thunder are simply doing what they should be doing up to this point. He’s very well aware of the fact that the NBA’s 82-game regular season is a marathon and that your place at this point of the year couldn’t matter less. He also realizes that all it will take is one down stretch for the tables to turn completely on the Thunder and for everyone to change their tune on them completely.
“There’s a process,” Durant said. “Every single day is a process. We know that we won 20 games but that doesn’t mean anything, especially right now. We just have to keep pressing every single day. We’re excited that we’re getting better and winning games, but we can’t get too excited. We have to stay on an even keel. I think everyone on our team knows that. At any given time you can end up with a two- or three-game losing streak that switches every round. We just have to keep working hard every single day, keep making steps and take it a day at a time.”
Hollinger Talks Grizzlies: Former ESPN NBA writer and analyst John Hollinger is now working in the front office with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are transitioning to a new ownership group and one of their first moves was bringing in Hollinger, who is known for his in-depth statistics, most notably player efficiency rating – better known as PER.
Hollinger’s number crunching and analytical skills will now be used to better a team rather than create content for readers and he recently talked at-length about what the change will be like for him.
“So far, so good,” Hollinger said in an interview on 92.9 ESPN in Memphis with Gary Parrish. “I haven’t had a chance to spend much time with the players yet because the first day of work, you spend a lot of time just filling out forms, random stuff like that and just meeting lots of people. So, I’m hoping in the next couple of days to really do that. I met some of the coaches today at practices and that was great. It’s something I’m looking forward to over the next couple of days, but as far as how I’ve been received, so far everything’s been really great. If anyone has any grievances about it, they’ve kept it well-hidden.
“There are some players who do know me and I know because they tell me. But, I think a lot of them just haven’t been following me and that’s fine. It’s not their job to follow what I’m saying. It’ll be interesting as we get into it, but I don’t know that it’s really going to affect anything. Even players that are aware of you and might be following you, their day-to-day interaction isn’t really with me, it’s with the coaching staff.”
As far as the coaching staff is concerned, Hollinger is looking forward to working with Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins, winning him over and trying to help him to do his job even better.
“I think the biggest thing to look at is that people will always want to make the strong-man argument, that you’re trying to replace the previous knowledge,” Hollinger said. “That’s not the case; you’re trying to add to it. If I can add things to what they already know, then that becomes really helpful. I think the biggest thing is, you have to build the relationship and build the trust and kind of start with the things that are more easily grasped and then try to move on from there. I’m definitely going to be available to help them as much as I can, and we’ll just see how it goes from there. He’s had plenty of success without me, but at the same time, I think there are probably ways that I could potentially help him, and once we start really working with each other, we can figure out where that balance is.”
For those who are going to miss getting their regular Hollinger fix on ESPN.com, he plans on keeping some dialogue going with his readers.
“That’s going to be really interesting,” Hollinger said. “I really want to keep some kind of dialogue with people and use my twitter account to do that. But, I can’t do it in the same way that I did. The biggest thing is I just can’t really talk about players on other teams. That’s the biggest limitation. It kind of changes things, somewhat and I’m still learning, I guess. I’m still figuring out how that voice is going to work. But, I’m still going to be out there on twitter somehow and having that dialogue with people.”
Steve Nash Fully Practices: The Los Angeles Lakers are close to being 100 percent for the first time since the regular season opener. Their starting point guard has been out since midway through game two on the year, but he practiced for the first time since fracturing his leg Thursday and he did so without any restrictions.
The Lakers will practice again tomorrow before their game on Saturday against the Golden State Warriors. Nash’s status for that one is currently up in the air and likely dependent on how his leg responds to practicing today and tomorrow.
He said afterwards that Christmas Day’s game against the New York Knicks is the most realistic date for his return, but the possibility is still there for him to return Saturday as well.
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