The bad news for the Oklahoma City Thunder is that Kevin Durant is overworked and tired. And the good news is he’s just tired and overworked.
That all translates to mean Durant’s decision to pull out of the upcoming World Cup and some would say walk out on Team USA was not in any way swayed by trepidations born of Paul George’s gruesomely unwatchable, season-ending leg injury or any pressure from any one sponsor more committed to protecting their investment than anything else.
Rather, it seems Kevin Durant allowed himself to become a victim of his own words, someone who literally came to accept as the gospel too much of his own hype.
“Basketball Never Stops,” Durant once opined in a Nike ad and for the league’s reigning MVP indeed it never seemed to. For the third time in five seasons, Durant led the league in minutes played last season (3,122) and the playoffs (815). Over that same time, his overall total of 15,064 minutes are more than that of any other player, some 3,000 more than second–place finisher and fellow workhouse LeBron James.
Durant now has averaged at least 39 minutes per game since his rookie year and over the last five seasons has appeared in 388 of a possible 394 games. But now help could be on the way, if for no other reason than the 26-year-old, five-time All-Star is set to assume a lesser workload.
“As we go forward there’s no question that’s something we want to look at and understand,” Thunder GM Sam Presti told The Oklahoman of all Durant’s labor. “Not only for the long term, but to also make sure we are getting the most out of the minutes that are played during one particular game or another.”
For the last several seasons OKC coach Scott Brooks and his staff have largely tried in vain to reduce Durant’s workload by managing his practice repertoire and off-day routine. The cause wasn’t helped last season when otherwise trusty sidekick Russell Westbrook missed 36 games with lingering knee issues.
But now there can be no other way. For if the Oklahoma City Thunder are to survive, Kevin Durant desperately needs to have his rest.