Kevin Durant Trying To Put Fallen Oklahoma City Thunder on the Map

Tyler PollardCorrespondent IJuly 12, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY - OCTOBER 29:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder watches a free throw against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Ford Center on October 29, 2008 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Bucks defeated the Thunder 98-87.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.   (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Hornets were forced to play much of their home games in Oklahoma City during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.

Longing for a professional sports team, Oklahoma City showed it could support a beaten down New Orleans Hornets team, even impressing David Stern. Stern commented that Oklahoma City could support a team of its own.

A year after the Hornets left, an agreement was reached that would allow Seattle Supersonics owner Clay Bennett to move the team to Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma City Thunder were born!

Things did not go well for the Thunder in their first season, going 1-17 in their first 18 games and eventually ending the season with a 23-59 record. Three games better than last year's record—there is a ray of hope in Oklahoma City.

Hope in a 6'10", small forward from Texas.

Hope that this 20-year-old kid can someday lead their Thunder to an NBA Title.

That ray of hope is Kevin Durant, who has earned the respect of Thunder fans with a great 2008-09 season, far better statistically than the prior campaign.

In the 2008-09 season, Durant averaged 25.3 PPG (five better than the previous year), 6.5 RPG (2.1 better than the previous year), and earned a 42.2 three-point percentage (a whopping 14 percent better than the previous year). 

Durant was the second player to average 25 PPG in his second season since Shaquille O'Neal in 1992. His company: LeBron James.

Many people get that Durant is a special kid, on a team that has had a rough go of it the last two years.

There is potential that Durant can lead this Thunder team who are the youngest team in the NBA to the playoffs.

The Oklahoma City Thunder's 2009-10 starting lineup:

PG: Russell Westbrook  Age: 20

2008 Stats: 15.3 PPG, 5.3 APG, 4.9 RPG

SG: James Harden  Age: 19

2008 Stats: (Arizona State)  20.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.2 APG

SF: Kevin Durant  Age: 20

2008: Stats: 25.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.8 APG

PF: Jeff Green  Age: 22

2008 Stats: 16.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.0 APG

C: B.J Mullens  Age: 20

2008 Stats: 8.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.1 BPG

Some players were born to play in the NBA; Kevin Durant wasn't one of them.

Ten words form the foundation of Kevin Durant's basketball career: "Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. "

Those words came from Taras Brown, a former coach of Durant, and the man whom Durant calls his Godfather. Among Brown's drills was making Durant write these words hundreds of times.

Without Brown there would be no Durant, say most of Durant's childhood teammates.

"Without Taras Brown, there would be no Kevin," said Richard Wyatt, Jr., a friend who played with Durant at the rec center. "You would think that was his father."

Durant wasn't always the guy who you would think would be in the NBA one day.

"When we first started, he wasn't that good," Wyatt said. "He had to work at it. Everything you see in Kevin is because of his hard work. He lived in the gym."

Durant is all about hard work, which leads us back to the Thunder.

The Thunder have the youngest starting lineup in the league, but some hard work can make them one of the best starting lineups in the league.