Kevin Durant is by far and away the best player on the Team USA roster playing in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball, and this latest campaign will only improve the reigning NBA MVP’s game and leadership.
Team USA has recently come under the spotlight after the horrific injury sustained by Paul George in the Team USA Blue vs White scrimmage game. The Indiana Pacer landed awkwardly against the stanchion while trying to block a James Harden transition basket – and the result was a compound fracture of the leg, requiring surgery, rods, plates and most likely 12 months of extensive rehabilitation, strength work and plenty of frustration.
While this unfortunate incident has dampened the enthusiasm around the FIBA World Cup briefly, everyone will have to move forward soon. Paul George has received plenty of support throughout this ordeal from Team USA teammates, NBA teammates and rivals and other sporting personalities and now he will focus on getting back to his best over the next year.
On the court though, Kevin Durant will be entrusted to refocus and revitalize a team that took this injury and the loss of a comrade very harshly. This incident showed just how much of a brotherhood the NBA and Team USA is and Durant is definitely the leader of this squad.
Durant was recognized as the games best player last season, and with a number of key names not participating for Team USA – this is Durant’s time to become the best player on the planet, not just the NBA’s MVP.
At just 25 years of age, it seems like a monumental challenge to be a leader of a team that is stacked with talent. Durant is up for it. After dominating with Team USA at the 2012 Olympics and having already experienced the FIBA World Cup in 2010 (and winning the MVP of the tournament) Durant is no stranger to international play. However, he took a backseat to some of the other big names on the team in years past – but not this time.
Kevin Durant is not only an exceptionally skilled basketball player, he is becoming a better leader each and every season. From Day 1 of Team USA training camp, it was clear that these experiences have only bolstered Durant’s leadership qualities. He is becoming a more vocal leader, inspiring and directing teammates on both ends of the floor and also bringing the coaching message from the sidelines to the hardwood. Durant is a self driven individual who wants to play every game of basketball to the best of his ability – and it shows.
Even through the training sessions, KD is giving it his all. He stays on the court after practice to take on former teammate James Harden and before he was injured, rival Paul George. The constant work ethic and drive to achieve is always on show. Playing alongside the best Team USA has to offer and competing against the “best of the rest” is only going to make Kevin Durant a better basketball player and leader.
That thought in itself is scary. Great news for Oklahoma City Thunder fans and a scary thought for the rest of the NBA in season 2014-15 and beyond.
With his Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook sitting out the tournament to get his body right (after numerous knee surgeries, this is a very smart move by Russ), Durant is also dedicating himself to getting better – for himself, for his teammates, for his Thunder franchise and its fans. Pushing himself, testing himself against the best in the NBA as part of the Team USA roster is an experience very few will get to know.
It is one that Kevin Durant knows the value of, and you can be sure it is one that he cherishes. And you can take it to the bank, that Kevin Durant will not only win the MVP of this FIBA World Cup as well, but he might just set himself up to win another NBA MVP and perhaps an NBA Finals MVP in the process.