Durant beats out Horford as top rookie

Published: Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 12:03 a.m.

Kevin Durant of the Seattle SuperSonics has been chosen as the NBA Rookie of Year, The Associated Press has learned.

The person with knowledge of the vote requested anonymity because the official announcement has not been made.

The honor was first reported by The Seattle Times in Wednesday’s editions.

The announcement is expected to become official today.

Durant was the SuperSonics leading scorer in his rookie season, living up to the lofty expectations placed on him after being the national college player of the year at Texas and the No. 2 overall pick in June’s draft.

He had to carry the scoring load for the rebuilding franchise from the start and didn’t disappoint. Durant averaged 20.3 points — the highest scoring average for a rookie since LeBron James averaged 20.9 points in 2003-04.

Despite strong rookie seasons from Atlanta’s Al Horford and Houston’s Luis Scola, Durant’s selection is hardly a surprise, especially after No. 1 pick Greg Oden went down over the summer with a knee injury. Durant was the Western Conference rookie of the month five times and is the first Sonics player to win the rookie award.

‘‘It would mean a lot,’’ Durant said after the season about the rookie award. ‘‘My main goal was to come in and get better. This summer is big for me to become a better player and help this team out next year and that’s what I’m going to try and do. But if I am the rookie of the year, it’s a blessing.’’

Durant experienced the typical rookie struggles early on. He took rushed and challenged shots at times, dropping his shooting percentage.

But as the season progressed, Durant’s confidence grew even as the team stumbled through the worst season in franchise history.

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