Though the team lost to the Los Angeles Clippers after a 50-point explosion from Lou Williams, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant reached a historic milestone on Wednesday night: he became the second youngest player ever (behind none other than LeBron James) to score 20,000 career points. By reaching the mark before reaching 30 years of age, Durant joins the most elite basketball company; only LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kobe Bryant reached 20,000 points so quickly.
At 29 years old, the slim and lanky “Durantula” has been touted as one of the most versatile, deadly, and elite scorers the league has ever seen. Durant’s skillset is such that he’s virtually expected to crack and surpass 30,000 points when he decides to hang up his hoop shoes. We’ll take a look back at the countless pull-up hesitation jumpers (“pull-up hesi jimbos,” as Durant prefers to call them), 5,100 free throws (over a quarter of his point total), and rim-rocking dunks that have cemented Durant as one of the NBA’s all-time greatest scorers.
The birth of the Slim Reaper
Drafted from Texas as the #2 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics, Durant had immediate impact, averaging 20.3 points per game in his rookie season; this included 7 games in which he scored 30+, highlighted by a 42 point outburst against his future team, the Golden State Warriors.
Defenders, pick your poison
So far, Durant has nabbed the NBA Scoring Title four times (three straight times from 2009-2012, and again in the 2013-2014 season). A look into his offensive arsenal can immediately explain why. No one in NBA history with height besides Dirk Nowitzki has been able to shoot the ball as well and as fluidly as Durant; his shooting drills included practicing shooting form with weighted medicine balls. His height, when combined with crazy shooting accuracy as a result of training, elevates him so far above other defenders that shooting over them is a breeze.
Durant has implemented great post and off-balance footwork that make him even harder to guard. His ball handling, most notably his crossover, has become a hallmark of his game because one dribble move from his long arms can create so much space for him to get a shot off, space that he barely needs in the first place.
His excellent shooting has made him part of the NBA’s 50-40-90 shooting club (50% FGs, 40% 3PTs, and 90% FTs). When you consider his immense scoring load, it’s wondrous that he could produce such efficient figures while tasked with shooting at such a high volume.
Then, in the season 2013-2014, Durant proved that he was the best player in the NBA at the time, rising above all others to earn his first MVP award. His award-winning season was insane: 32 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists a game while shooting 50% from the field. The MVP season highlight video below explains better than any words how deadly Durant can be.
Where will he end up on the all-time scoring list?
Durant has scored a plethora of points and has claimed his first NBA title before the age of 30. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s ridiculous record of 38,387 points seems unlikely for Durant to touch during the duration of his career; he’d have to maintain a high average of 27 points per game for 8 more seasons–seasons in which his age will be likely to dictate his scoring–to come near Kareem’s record. That being said, Durant will certainly be a Top 10, probably Top 5 scorer when it’s all said and done, likely decorated with multiple NBA championship rings.