Analysis: Durant will need some help

Durant headed northwest (Kathy Willens, AP Staff)

Eight years ago, Kevin Durant shared a boy's dream with his mother, Wanda Pratt, whose days were filled with work at a Suitland, Md., post office. He told her he wanted to be a basketball player, and she was dutifully supportive and encouraging in her response, giving her son some simple yet useful advice: work hard.

Thursday night the proud mother watched in New York as her son was chosen in the NBA Draft, as expected, by the Seattle Supersonics with the number two selection. The one-year University of Texas basketball comet can now accurately say that at least part of his boyhood hoop dream has been fulfilled – he's officially a member of the exclusive basketball fraternity known as the League.

The hard work prescribed by Pratt has paid off. But though big money is now guaranteed to Durant, who was chosen after Portland picked former Ohio State center Greg Oden with the first pick, don't expect last year's collegiate player of the year to stop his ascension into the basketball stratosphere. He has said all along that simply becoming a basketball player does not quench his competitive thirst.

Instead, he wants to be one of basketball's greatest players, and he wants to win championships. Furthermore, he's confident that he knows exactly what he has to do to fulfill the final and most difficult steps of his dream.

Work hard.

But Durant's arrival in Seattle must be combined not only with hard work but also with – most probably – significant personnel changes for the Sonics to win soon. New Seattle general manager Sam Presti joined the club in June and inherited a team that went a dismal 31-51 last season, and one around which rumors of a potential franchise move has swirled.

Seattle is also the only team in the NBA without a coach, though Presti promises the Sonics will improve defensively, an obvious need for a team that finished 22nd out of 30 teams in points allowed last season. Two of the league's top 20 scorers – Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis – were on the Sonics' roster prior to the draft Thursday, but Allen is now gone to the Boston Celtics, in essence saying to Durant: Welcome to Seattle, this team is yours.

Part of that trade reportedly will result in Georgetown forward Jeff Green coming to Seattle, so the personnel purge is already in full effect.

Coaches who have been interviewed for the job include San Antonio assistant P.J. Carlesimo, former Minnesota head coach Dwane Casey and Sacramento assistant coach Scott Brooks. Regardless of the coach, unless even more changes are made to the Seattle roster, Durant will have to accept the fact that his team will endure losing early in his career.

Knowing Durant, that won't be something he will accept comfortably.

Durant must also realize that the Seattle Supersonics might ultimately relocate to Oklahoma City, Kansas City or even Las Vegas. Seattle owner and Oklahoma City native Clay Bennett is not pleased that Washington's legislators voted down his proposal for a new arena, and without a new arena or at least major renovations for the antiquated KeyArena, Bennett has been adamant about the possibility of moving.

All of which means this: Durant's mom was right about the "hard work" part of becoming a successful basketball player. But now that he's in the NBA, much of Durant's fate will be determined by the decisions made above him pertaining to the hiring of head coach and the creation of a winning roster. Toss in the potential upheaval of a franchise move, and it's clear that Durant's early pro career will be as foggy as a Seattle morning.

Durant has the talent to ultimately carry a team to a world championship, but his arrival must also include good decisions made by Petri and Bennett.

HornsDigest.com Recommended Stories