25 Incredible Kevin Durant Highlights for OKC Thunder Star's 25th Birthday

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2013

25 Incredible Kevin Durant Highlights for OKC Thunder Star's 25th Birthday

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    It's hard to think of gifts for Kevin Durant on his 25th birthday.

    The options are pretty limited, especially since it would be tough to get our hands on an MVP trophy. It'd be even harder to rig the NBA Finals so KD could secure his first championship. Really, those are the only two things he's missing right now.

    Given the limited resources at hand (the Internet and a few hours to kill), the best way to celebrate the Oklahoma City Thunder's scoring machine was to compile the 25 most impressive clips from his career.

    The nasty slams, ice-cold game-winners and incredible off-the-dribble moves are all here.

    Happy birthday, KD. You've given us more highlights than we know what to do with, so we're paying back the favor. Sorry for re-gifting.

KD Smokes the Mavs with Career High

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    Forget the slow build; we're kicking this thing off with a major milestone in Durant's career.

    On Jan. 18, 2013, KD pumped in a career-high 52 points. For good measure, he hit an absurdly difficult runner to ice the game in overtime. This is the first example of how Durant can make even the toughest shots look easy.

    It won't be the last.

No Westbrook, No Problem

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    OKC lost Russell Westbrook in Game 2 of its first-round series against the Houston Rockets last April. And though that injury ultimately prevented the Thunder from making a run to their second straight NBA Finals, Durant did his best to show everyone that he was ready to pick up the slack for his fallen teammate.

    He hammered this dunk down on Omer Asik—no slouch as a defender, by the way—in the early going of Game 3.

    Hey, Rockets, stop the ball.

Besting Vinsanity

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    Three clips in, and we've arrived at our first true buzzer-beating dagger.

    Vince Carter thought he'd given the Dallas Mavericks the lead when he drilled a straight-on three with 1.4 seconds left in this matchup from Dec. 29, 2011. Durant countered with a cold-blooded bomb of his own, knocking off the defending champs with a walk-off triple.

Two for the Price of One

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    Anyone interested in a pair of highlights wrapped into one ridiculous play? 

    Here, Durant absolutely sheds Trevor Ariza with a slick left-to-right crossover from the three-point line, bolting into the lane in a split second. That's constitutes highlight No. 1.

    Jan Vesely is waiting underneath, but Durant surprises everyone in the gym by taking off a step early and cramming home a lefty smash. Highlight No. 2.


Thank You, Sir. May I Have Another?

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    We're on a bit of a crossover kick here, as this entry features not one, but two nifty ball-handling displays from KD.

    Keep in mind that DeMar DeRozan is a natural shooting guard and a full three inches shorter than Durant. Yet he still gets his ankles broken twice in one sequence.

    The elusive scoop that finishes the play is nice, too.

The Spin Zone

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    Crossovers aren't Durant's only means of eluding defenders. He's got a sweet spin move, too.

    Here, he loses Kevin Love with a quick 360 before giving vaunted defender Darko Milicic the old up-and-under. The finish is pure George Gervin.

Giant Killer

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    JaVale McGee isn't an easy guy to dunk on. Most times, attempts to posterize the shot-swatting Denver Nuggets center wind up with the aspiring dunker coming away with nothing.

    Not so for Durant.

    It's not a good idea to try to go over McGee and his massive wingspan—even for a guy with Durant's considerable reach. So the OKC stud simply powered through his victim.

Maybe It's Personal

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    I don't know what the Mavs did to make Durant hate them, but it sure seems like he takes special joy in piling up highlights against Mark Cuban's squad.

    Maybe the outspoken Mavericks owner rejected KD's pitch for a new kind of fabric fastener on Shark Tank.

    Whatever the case, Durant can't help but pile up the jaw-dropping plays against Dallas. In this one, he casually erases Darren Collison's layup attempt and then drops the hammer on Chris Kaman at the other end.

    Leave the Mavs alone, KD.

The First of Many

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    Let's turn back the clock on this one. Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Durant played for a team called the Seattle SuperSonics.

    Remember them?

    The first game-winner of Durant's career came on an appropriately long, highly contested jumper in double overtime. Al Horford couldn't quite close out enough on the lanky sniper, and the result was a preview of the kinds of shots KD would go on to hit after the Sonics morphed into the Thunder.

    Nice shot, rook.

Double Dip

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    One good rookie highlight deserves another.

    There are a couple of interesting things about this clip. First, Durant rarely employs the two-foot plant when he attacks the rim. We see that uncommon approach here, and it's hard to argue with the results.

    Second, Rasho Nesterovic is involved, and I'd like to take this opportunity to profess my allegiance to Team Rasho in the war against Team Stephen A. Smith. What did Rasho ever do to him?

One More for the Mavs

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    You've got to be kidding me. How many of Durant's biggest highlights came against the Mavericks!?

    In yet another instance of phenomenal defense being completely wasted, KD hit an incredibly difficult pull-up that rattled in to beat the Mavs in Game 1 of their 2012 first-round series.

    This is getting ridiculous.

Ankle Trouble

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    Oh no, Sasha Pavlovic. Oh no.

    Side note: This is Durant's first assist so far. He averaged 4.6 per game in 2012-13, a career high.

    Additional side note: Apparently, Nick Collison goes by "Big Dog." Since when?

Another Poster

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    Remember when Roy Hibbert became one of the breakout stories of the 2012-13 postseason by dominating the interior against the New York Knicks and Miami Heat in consecutive series?

    The big man anchored the Indiana Pacers' league-leading defense all season long by routinely deterring or swatting away shots at the rim.

    Durant doesn't care about any of that.

Why Not?

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    Another Mavs highlight? Another Mavs highlight.

    The year: 2011. The victim: Brendan Haywood.

    I'm beginning to wonder if KD will ever be allowed inside Dallas' city limits again.


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    In this clip, Durant blows right past an excellent—and much smaller—defender in George Hill, lulls the entire San Antonio Spurs defense into thinking he can't possibly finish the play from so far under the rim and then spikes home a reverse jam.

    Yeah, I'd call that a highlight.

New Milestone

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    We're cheating a bit here, as Durant's first career triple-double isn't technically one highlight. But it'd be criminal to celebrate the Durantula's birthday without giving a nod to one of his biggest individual performances on Nov. 18, 2012.

    The only real question is: What took him so long?

Shoe Optional

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    There were probably a lot of more exciting blocks on Durant's career resume. In fact, we've already seen a couple, and we'll probably include one or two more before the end of this thing.

    But there's a good chance that this is the only one he pulled off while wearing only one shoe.

    Arron Afflalo, you are dismissed.

Double Dose

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    Sometimes, Durant gets tired of dunking on big guys. And since it wouldn't really be fair for him to pick on just one smaller player, he occasionally waits for defenders to gang up before he finishes on the break.

    This clip from the 2008-09 season is a good example of that.

    Maybe opponents should start throwing three defenders at him.

That's More Like It

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    We can all agree that it's more entertaining when Durant picks on big guys, right?

    Jermaine O'Neal still had some game left in 2008-09, so KD's driving slam over the veteran Toronto Raptor was pretty impressive.

    It's important to note that in this highlight, as has been the case in the vast majority of Durant's posterizations, he's creating chances for himself off the dribble. A lot of the league's more limited dunkers rely on setups from teammates to get their slams.

    KD does it all himself.

One-Two Punch

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    The Thunder aren't a one-man team, so it's probably time we gave some credit to the guy most responsible for helping Durant out.

    As OKC discovered against the Memphis Grizzlies during the playoffs, life gets awfully rough for KD without Russell Westbrook doing work alongside him.

    Here, Westbrook rudely bats Stephen Curry's layup away and triggers a break that Durant finishes with a flourish.

    The buddy system is alive and well in Oklahoma City.

Dimes Aplenty

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    It's easy to understand why defenses focus so much of their attention on Durant. If you're at all unclear on why that is, I'd encourage you to peruse the preceding 20 slides.

    That's no problem for KD, though, as he has become a better passer in every year of his career. Now teammates know to make opportunistic cuts when opponents get a little too preoccupied with shifting toward Durant.

    Thabo Sefolosha is the beneficiary on this play.

Nice Pass, Andrew

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    Well, it's safe to say we have some proof that Durant's release is as quick as advertised.

    Admittedly, this clip makes the cut because it features one of Andrew Bynum's most head-scratching plays. Don't get me wrong; it's always a good idea to pass the ball to Durant.

    It's probably best if he's actually on your team, though.

"That Was Wrong!"

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    It's hard to beat the analysis in this clip.

    Calmly surveying the floor from well beyond the three-point arc, Durant found a cutting Kevin Martin with a phenomenal 30-foot bounce pass right through the teeth of the defense.

    Guys who can score like KD simply shouldn't be able to have the court vision that led to this incredible play. It's just not fair.

    Some might even say it's wrong.

High Wire

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    In what is possibly the most dangerous entry on the list, we've got Durant going way up in the air to corral a Westbrook alley-oop.

    It's a beautiful, violent one-handed finish that looked for a second like it might get ugly when Jameer Nelson nearly undercut an airborne KD. All's well that ends well, though.

    Unless you're the Magic in this highlight.

The Rucker 66

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    The 66 points Durant poured in at Rucker Park during the lockout don't count as a career high. But his insane shooting exhibition—featuring four straight three-pointers that ultimately shut down the game—might actually be KD's most memorable highlight.

    We can say for certain that his play has never induced more unmitigated chaos.

    With every successive triple, more and more fans went into some kind of shared fugue state. Eventually, they rushed the court in excitement, seeking to get a piece of the guy who simply couldn't miss.

    It's hard to explain exactly how Durant managed to get so hot from long range on an outdoor court. Maybe he thought he was playing the Mavs.