Originally written November 13, 2012 on NESN.com:
When the Thunder traded James Harden shortly before the season, the small-market contender did more than clear salary cap space. In dealing the heady two-guard, the Thunder also signaled that they believed Kevin Durant was ready to expand his game and to fill some of the roles Harden formerly occupied. Durant has come through so far this season, and then some. Not only has he assumed Harden’s playmaking abilities with career highs in assists and assist percentage through eight regular-season games, but he is also more active on the glass, averaging more than 10 rebounds per game for the first time in his career. All the while, he is still one of the most effective scorers in the NBA and one of the league’s most cool-headed closers. Last Thursday’s game against the Bulls was the ideal example of the new, improved Durant. He scored 24 points, including 10 of his team’s 31 points in the final quarter, as the Thunder came back from a six-point deficit entering the final period to win 97...
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