Durant back, Oklahoma City Thunder set sights on NBA title
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant couldn't help himself.
While recovering from surgery on his broken right foot, the Oklahoma City Thunder star put himself through the agony of watching Golden State win the NBA title. The Thunder were among the favorites last season before Durant was injured.
''I hated seeing someone else win,'' the 2014 MVP said Monday. ''There were great basketball games being played, and I've got to respect it. I hated seeing those guys win.''
Durant is back, and the Thunder have their sights on an NBA title after reaching the Western Conference Finals three of the past five years. Oklahoma City opens training camp Tuesday.
''We want to put ourselves in position to be the best possible team we can late in the season and make a run at winning a championship,'' forward Nick Collison said. ''That's definitely the goal here is to win a championship, I don't think there's any doubt about that.''
Star guard Russell Westbrook worked out with Durant during the summer and said Durant looks like the player who averaged 32 points per game in 2013-14.
''I think he's in great shape,'' Westbrook said. ''I think he's fine. Shape won't be a problem. Just him getting back into the groove of things and him finding his rhythm is the most important part, especially coming back from an injury.''
Durant is surrounded with an abundance of talent.
Westbrook was last year's scoring champ and finished fourth in the MVP balloting. Serge Ibaka, a defensive stopper and improving shooter who missed the final month last season with a knee injury, is ready to go. The Thunder re-signed forward/center Enes Kanter after picking him up in the middle of last season, and the double-double machine is fired up after trimming down and focusing on his defense in the offseason.
The Thunder will have to adjust to new coach Billy Donovan, but the players don't expect that to be an issue. Even with all their talent, the Thunder know reaching their goals will take a series of successful small steps and some good luck. It all starts with having a full team in late September.
''It's definitely a relief to get everybody at full strength, especially at the start of training camp,'' Westbrook said. ''Trying to get everybody healthy is definitely something you can't take for granted.''
Westbrook said the injury situation last year helped the Thunder improve their depth, and that could be a factor this season. The Thunder were disappointed that they missed the playoffs, but proud that they finished with a 45-37 record, despite so many issues.
''We were able to find out and see what guys were made of,'' he said. ''A lot of guys stepped up. With trades and all the different things that happened to us last year, we were able to see different guys step up and different guys play better.''
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