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LeBron says you can’t stop KD, you can only hope to contain him. That also will not work.

Jun 17, 2012, 11:30 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder – Game Two Getty Images

Lost in the eternal pursuit of a high quality shot by any NBA team on a given possession in the name of efficiency is this reality: you’re always going to have bad possessions. End of the shot clock, up against a trap, heat checking, trying too hard to victimize a mismatch, all these things happen routinely. Playing a defense like Boston’s is essentially a battle of which team winds up in worse possessions. But that’s where star players come in.

Star players are able to convert low percentage shots at a high rate. Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, these players can turn those contested fadeaways into points where others cannot. It’s a double-edged sword, but it’s also a very useful one when you have guys who can hit tough shots.

That’s what makes Kevin Durant so ridiculously dangerous. He doesn’t go to the well so often that he hurts his team, but he can also hit any shot, from anywhere, no matter the contest. Don’t believe me? Ask LeBron James, who said this at practice availability on Saturday:

LeBron on KD: “Well, I mean, like you say, you can’t stop KD, you just don’t try to give him easy ones. You don’t want to give him an easy dunk in transition where you didn’t get back on defense, or you give him a transition D because you didn’t communicate and gave up and things like that of course, but he’s going to make shots. He can make any shot the game has to offer, off the dribble, off the catch and shoot, off pindowns, he can make every shot. You just try to wear on him, but he’s going to make his shots and get his points because of the type of player he is.”

via Royce Young’s post on NBA Finals | Latest updates on Sulia.

This is correct. We think of Durant for the jumpshot the same way we think of LeBron James for the dunk, the two shots emblematic of their playstyles. But both have the capacity to do the other. James’ off-balance, inconsistent jumper still goes in a large percentage of the time, Durant can still throw down with the best of them. Keeping him away from the basket isn’t going to force him into a low percentage. Nothing will. But it’ll give you a fighting chance at scraping off a few points, six maybe, and in a series this close, that may be enough to win.

In a series like this, it’s all a game of inches.

  1. Justin - Jun 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    The only person who can stop Kevin Durant is Russel Westbrook

    • dal24la - Jun 17, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      That or if he goes passive.

  2. borderline1988 - Jun 17, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    One thing I have noticed is that Durant doesn’t score as well from the left side of the court. Obviously, if he has an open jumper from anywhere, he’s deadly.

    Durant loves to drive right, where he can pull up from anywhere and it’s impossible to block his shot or deny him a decent look at the basket, or he can go all the way to the rim and finish easily b/c he’s so long. It’s a complete game…His pullups in the midrange are unstoppable, and if you over-commit, he’s just going to go all the way to the rim.

    But when he’s forced to drive left, or when he’s one on one, on the left side of the court, he seems to be less dangerous. That’s because he has that one-arm shot delivery, which can be contested if he’s on the left side of the court, driving to the middle.

    I would try my best to deny him the ball on the right side of the court. Get physical with him..he’s still young and thin, so as Lebron said, you can wear him out. Make him work real hard just to catch the ball where he likes it. If he gets the ball on the left hand side, just defend one on one, but look out for the screen. Durant likes to go around the screen and drive right down the middle of the lane.

  3. dirtybird2020 - Jun 17, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    ^ this guy, superstars/ best players in the world, aren’t one dimensional! If they knew his left side was weak theyd force him too the left, their pros buddy!

    • lunasceiling - Jun 17, 2012 at 1:37 PM

      Borderline’s not claiming KD’s one dimensional, only that he somewhat favors one side (and he does). I’m sure defenders TRY and force him left, but that’s easier said than done. Hedge too far right, and his move to the left is unguarded (which will be high-percentage…he’s not that bad to his left): he’ll ether drive through the gap or pop an uncontested jumper.from the space created.

      KD’s a nightmare to cover…but that’s true for at least three other guys in these Finals.

  4. blakspartan - Jun 17, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Durant hasn’t been physically tested, needs to be banged up a little. Every time he goes to the whole he needs to feel body contact he is going to the whole to easy

  5. gopokes0714 - Jun 17, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Justin, you are an idiot. You obviously have no comprehension of basketball and only know what ESPN spoon feeds you to drive ratings. KD backs Westbrook 100% that’s all you need to know.

    I don’t know where in society it is acceptable to rip on a 23 year old kid for doing everything right off the court, and help his team get to the FINALS on the court.

    • Justin - Jun 17, 2012 at 3:06 PM

      Yeah because the only reason I think that is because ESPN. I have been saying that for months. Did I rip the kid? No. I am actually a huge fan of Westbrook and have watched a ton of Thunder games. If you don’t think it is a legitimate problem when he shoots 26 shots and hits like 11 while Durant shoots 22 and hits like 14 than you are an idiot. I watch him and I don’t like when he wants to be the hero. I don’t blame him because playing in Durant’s shadow can’t be the easiest thing ever.

      Also, before you go running your mouth I disagree with most of what ESPN says regarding Westbrook. He needs to keep playing his game that helped get them to the finals. BUT if he is not hitting his pull up jumpers that he loves to take then it is time to defer.

      And just for safe measure I take dumps with more basketball IQ than you.

      • gopokes0714 - Jun 17, 2012 at 3:35 PM

        OK sorry i haven’t been cataloging your responses on Westbrook. But don’t sit there and act like you were not intentionally stirring the pot. Ya, sure, you are a Westbrook fan. What like Skip Bayless claims to be an OKC fan? Whatever I don’t care you who claim to like. Actions speak louder than words

        Now onto a little BB IQ, Westbrook has a pretty good shooting percentage over the course of the season. I didn’t hear anybody complaining about it during the 4 game win streak in the Western Conference Finals. Sure some games the shots don’t fall, but it’s pretty clear that the Thunder have a better winning percentage when Westbrook shoots more than KD. Not to mention that it was Westbrook’s defense that even allowed the Thunder to be in that game. And to be perfectly honest, it doesn’t take a ton of BB IQ to understand that.

        You made a comment talking out of your ass, and got called on it. Get over it.

  6. biggestredmiami - Jun 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Knock him on the ground a few times, see how that changes things

  7. rwmilli - Jun 17, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Pretty sure KD has faced plenty of body contact through his career and been defended by the best, he’s not ” young ” anymore…he’s 23 and been a star for bam to back years since he came into the league, not to mention he’s practically 10 feet tall and lanky, not everyone fills out like lebron James, so I think it’s safe to say he’s solid. Oh and for the comment above you mean hole* not ” whole ” they have different meanings

    • lyndseymarieee - Jun 17, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      And he’s actually put on quite a bit of weight since his rookie year though that’s still not saying much. His body type isn’t meant to turn out like Lebron’s. Can you imagine? He’d look ridiculous.

  8. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 17, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    You can only hope Russ tries to go tit for tat with Wade and, as a result, take Durant out of the game.

    – Fixed.

  9. isujames - Jun 17, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Silly posters here, if it wasn’t for WESTBROOK driving/scoring/penetrating/breaking down the defense,speed OKC would have been blown out the building.He can create his own shot, and should be doubled.Enough said!!!!!

  10. blakspartan - Jun 17, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    OKC never had any competition in the west the lakers and spurs was like the Boston celtics of the western conference, i would guarantee anyone they would not have had a run like they did in the western conference if they was in the eastern conference

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