A Visual History: How Kevin Durant Became the Game’s Deadliest Scorer

  • Kevin Durant high school Oak Hill dunk
    High School – Playing off the ball

    Durant got plenty of opportunities to lead the way in high school – he was a top recruit for a reason. But the groundwork for playing off the ball was laid at Oak Hill, where KD had the good fortune to collect passes from future NBA point guard Ty Lawson.

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  • Kevin Durant Texas
    University of Texas – Creating & Expanding the Range

    The Longhorns aren’t on your typical shortlist of national powerhouses, so Durant was able to step in and lead the way from day one. He shouldered the load for the Longhorns, taking on ball-handling responsibility and assassinating teams from downtown with no regard for their feelings.

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  • Kevin Durant Texas pass dunk
    University of Texas - Turning Double-Teams Against Opponents

    The great ones are always dealing with double-teams – Durant learned this the hard way at Texas. It’s no surprise that he’s become more of a playmaker as the years have gone by. The process started early.

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  • Rookie Year, Seattle – Ball-handling and Crunch-Time Reps

    Durant was drafted to lead his franchise into the future, and he got that chance with tons of reps during his rookie season. That included getting to shoot the ball in the game’s waning moments, an honor often left for battle-tested veterans. He showed he belonged and gained valuable experience for a future of clutch-shot taking.

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  • Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant block
    2010 – Hitting the Playoff Wall

    In Durant’s first crack at the playoffs, he wasn’t at his best against the defending champion Lakers. But getting a taste of what playoff basketball is like was a crucial step in his development, provoking reflection and an opportunity to learn from his first war.

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  • Kevin Durant Rucker Park 66 points
    2011 – Rucker Park Shooting Barrage

    If his arrival among the world’s greatest wasn’t clear enough yet, Durant paid a visit to NYC’s streetball mecca, capping off a ferocious 66 points with a barrage of four straight triples. The performance highlighted what we all wanted to believe: Put Kevin Durant on a basketball court and the who, what, and where don’t matter. He’s going to light it up.

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  • 2012 – 36 points in his NBA Finals Debut

    It didn’t take long for Durant to learn from defeat in the playoffs; the Thunder rose to the Finals just two years after his postseason debut. In his first Finals appearance, he indicated he was built for the stage in the Thunder’s only win of the series. At age 23, Durant led the series in scoring overall with 30.6 per game on 54.8 percent shooting.

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  • Kevin Durant Russell Westbrook alley-oop
    2012 – Durant drops 51, Westbrook 40, Ibaka Triple-Double

    Oklahoma City’s potential was murky in the early days while Durant and Russell Westbrook figured out how to share shot opportunities. No game exemplifies how far they came more than this obscene performance against the Nuggets, when the two co-stars peaked by prodding each other to be great. Serge Ibaka did alright for himself with just a triple-double. The Thunder triumvirate can use this as a reference point into the future.

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  • Kevin Durant dunk Houston
    2013 – 50-40-90 Club

    The 2012-13 season was a potential breaking point for the Thunder after James Harden was traded to Houston before the season. Durant responded to the challenge by becoming the youngest player ever to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three, and 90 percent from the free throw line. Shots like the one you see above go a long way toward keeping the efficiency high.

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  • 2014 – The MVP Season

    Durant put it all together last season, wiping out the competition despite missing his running mate Westbrook for long stretches. The pieces of his game – shooting, creating shots off the dribble, getting open off the ball – all came together in a magical run that saw him knock down big shot after big shot. Having captured the league’s top individual honor alongside his fourth scoring title, grabbing a ring looks like the only challenge left for him to conquer.

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  • Kevin Durant high school Oak Hill dunk
  • Kevin Durant Texas
  • Kevin Durant Texas pass dunk
  • Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant block
  • Kevin Durant Rucker Park 66 points
  • Kevin Durant Russell Westbrook alley-oop
  • Kevin Durant dunk Houston

You’ve known him by a number of nicknames over the years – KD, The Durantula, Slim Reaper and more – but Kevin Durant’s calling card has always been getting buckets. From the streets of the DMV to the heart of Texas, from the Pacific Northwest back to Middle America, Durant has been dropping bombs at each of his basketball homes.

It wasn’t always easy, of course. Durant was blessed with other-worldly athleticism, size, and nimbleness, but years of practice and hard work made him the player he is today. Contrary to popular belief, splashing jumpers from 30-plus feet and blowing by defenders like they’re standing still comes from countless hours of practice and hard work. Genetics can only take you so far – KD’s drive helped take him the rest of the way.

He’s a standout guy and a standout player – you can see it in his footwear. Durant’s fascination with weather was tied in to the Nike KD7’s overarching theme of thunder and lightning, and this weather-centric colorway continues that tradition. The “Weatherman” KD7, arriving soon at a Champs Sports near you, combines the bright colors of Doppler radar with eye-catching design. With warm weather ahead of us, it feels like the perfect time to pick up some kicks with a warmly-tinted vibe. These fit the bill nicely.

In celebration of this release, we’re running it back from KD’s early days ‘til present, chronicling his ascent to the NBA’s scoring elite. How did Durant become the game’s deadliest scorer? Read on to find out.

Follow Kyle on Twitter at @kyleneubeck

image via Nike