Kevin Durat #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts against the Memphis Grizzlies during Game six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs
Four-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant, last season’s NBA Most Valuable Player, was upbeat Tuesday as he discussed starting the season on the sidelines.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star, talking for the first time since surgery on his broken right foot, insisted the situation was a “win-win” — giving him a chance to learn about the game from a different viewpoint as his team-mates honed their skills on court.
Durant, who arrived to meet reporters using a wheeled scooter to support his injured foot rather than using crutches, is expected to be sidelined at least another month.
With the NBA season tipping off on October 28, he said other players will have to step up and make the most of increased minutes on the floor.
“It gives guys opportunities to play, build confidence and build that chemistry as a team,” Durant said. “I’m looking at the positive side of it. It’s a win-win. I’m learning a lot about the game while I’m out.
“My teammates are getting a lot of opportunities because there are a lot of minutes out there to play and help contribute to the team.”
Durant said he was grateful for the support of the Thunder organization as he decided to have surgery to repair the Jones Fracture — a broken bone at the base of the small toe.
An aching pain alerted him to the problem, and he and team officials hope it was caught early enough to keep the rehabilitation process short.
“Everything is progressing,” he said. “I’m looking forward to these next few weeks of getting better.”
Durant’s on-court contribution will be hard, if not impossible, for the Thunder to replace.
He averaged 32 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assist a game last season, sparking the Thunder to the Western Conference finals, where they were eliminated by the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
After winning last season’s scoring crown, he joined Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and George Gervin as the only players to win four NBA scoring titles in five years.
However, Durant says he’ll try to use his time on the sidelines as a learning experience.
“It’s a different position for me, but I’m looking forward to growing mentally by watching the game, learning from my teammates and helping them as much as I can,” he said.