Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Could the NBA mess up Kevin Durant?

Last week, Complete Sports asked the question that surely must be nagging at each of the crappy teams in the NBA: Who would you take with the #1 pick, Greg Oden or Kevin Durant?

The general consensus seemed to favor Oden, since his size and skills are a rarer find in today's NBA. And once he finds the offense to go with his defensive talents, watch out!

But a few said they'd go with Durant, because you don't see too many 6' 10" (or is he 6' 9"?) forwards who can shoot and handle the ball like he can. Some have gone so far as to say he could "redefine" his position, though it seems to me that Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki have already paved that road.

Over at Slate.com, however, Nathaniel Friedman makes the argument that being drafted by the wrong NBA team could seriously screw with Durant's development.

The very thing that makes him great, his versatility, will make Durant a mixed blessing for some eager lottery team. Basketball is a game of positions, roles, and responsibilities. Point guards pass, shooting guards score, small forwards slash, power forwards do the dirty work, and centers control the paint. A player who can do all of these things poses lots of problems for opposing defenses. By the same token, the more a player deviates from basketball's traditional typology, the more difficult it becomes to assemble a roster around him.

For instance, Kevin Garnett can do so many things well, he's often let the Minnesota Timberwolves off the hook. He's tall enough to defend power forwards and centers, so the T-Wolves have never really felt the need to acquire a good big man. And he's talented enough to be "the man," but might not have the killer instinct necessary to be the "go-to guy." So Minnesota's never brought in a cold-blooded scorer to play alongside him.

Contrast that with how Dallas has assembled a roster of tougher big men and explosive scorers around Nowitzki, so he can focus on what he does best.

So which team could be the best fit for Kevin Durant? Boston? Memphis? Philadelphia? Which one will decide to either utilize his versatility or force him to stick to a position? And is it better to be creative or go with a formula that's worked over the years?

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