Texas forward Kevin Durant declared for the 2007 NBA Draft on Tuesday, ending weeks of hand-wringing by NBA executives who feared he might pull a Joakim Noah and return to Texas for his sophomore season.
According to the sources I've spoken with, Durant actually wanted to return to Texas, mostly because of lifestyle and maturity issues. But once it became clear that Nike was going to offer him upward of $20 million in endorsements to go along with that guaranteed NBA contract, the pros of going pro outweighed the merits of returning to school.
Now, if Greg Oden will declare soon, NBA execs such as Jerry West and Danny Ainge can sleep better at night. And at that point we can rekindle the best debate in sports this year -- who's a better NBA prospect, Durant or Oden?
For most of the past 18 months, the conventional wisdom was that Oden was a no-brainer as the No. 1 pick. Although Durant's spectacular play this season has reshaped that thinking among the media and fans, very few NBA GMs have changed their minds.
Oden's dominant performance in the NCAA title game versus Florida seemed to put the question to rest for NBA folks. Anytime an athletic, 7-foot freshman can put up 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks against the best front line in college basketball, you take him -- that's the conventional wisdom in NBA circles.
But thanks to the amazing talents of Durant, there are good arguments to be made against the conventional wisdom this year. In fact, after spending the weekend in Memphis probing some of the best minds in the NBA scouting universe, I see at least five reasons it might be wise to take Kevin Durant at No. 1.