Kevin Durant on Cover of this Week’s SI, Says ‘I’m Tired of Being Second…I’m Done with it’

18COVv12_NAT_PromoOklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant is tired and it has nothing to do with the grind of a long season—he’s grown tired of always finishing second. In this week’s Sports Illustrated, senior writer Lee Jenkins finds that the unsatisfied Durant, who appears on the SI cover for the fifth time, uses the success of rival Lebron James for motivation and analysis of advanced metrics to improve the chances of leading his team to an NBA championship. Durant tells Jenkins:

“I’ve been second my whole life. I was the second best player in high school. I was the second pick in the draft. I’ve been second in the MVP voting three times. I came in second in the finals. I’m tired of being second. I’m not going to settle for that. I’m done with it.” (PAGE 38)

Durant, still just 24, has no interest in joining the list of NBA stars who have languished in other player’s shadows. He tells Jenkins that he is motivated from afar by the success of James, last year’s MVP who’s Miami Heat defeated Durant’s Thunder for the 2012 NBA title. Jenkins, who also wrote the 2012 SI Sportsman of the Year profile on James last December, notes that the two stars take flak for their friendship off the court. However, Durant says: “I’m not taking it easy on [Lebron]. Don’t you know I’m trying to destroy the guy every time I go on the court?” (PAGE 41)

One area Durant has worked on is efficiency, as he has hired his own analytics expert to help him improve numerical imbalances in his game. After every game, he watches video with his private trainer Justin Zormelo. Durant tailors the next day’s workout to improve in areas where he struggles statistically. Over the past few seasons, the duo helped transform Durant from a scoring machine to a playmaker. Jenkins writes that Durant now better understands his sweet spots—both elbows, both corners and the top of the key. Says Thunder coach Scott Brooks:

“He knows he can score. He’s trying to score smarter.” (PAGE 38)

The Thunder lead the NBA in nearly every offensive category, even though they traded one of the league’s leading scorers in James Harden before the season. What’s most surprising is that the Thunder have improved in virtually every relevant offensive area with Durant attempting fewer field goals than at any time since he was a rookie. Durant also has set career marks in efficiently rating, assists and shooting percentage.

Jenkins says: “He wants what Miami has, and he’s going to seize it one meticulously selected elbow jumper at a time.” (PAGE 38)


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