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Kevin Durant acting like he wants scoring title

Apr 4, 2013, 5:56 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder's Durant drives past Milwaukee Bucks' Daniels during their NBA basketball game in Milwaukee

Kevin Durant said Carmelo Anthony “can have” the scoring title, but Durant’s actions say otherwise, at least according to David Thorpe of ESPN ($):

More importantly, he seems solely focused on winning another scoring title, which is driving his number of contested shots up and his field goal percentage down.

But lately Durant has become visibly frustrated when things stand in his way of winning the scoring title. In a recent game, he barked at the scorer’s table when he noticed they had not yet recorded his bucket on the JumboTron. In another instance, he chided Jackson for electing to pass to a more open teammate on a 3-on-1 break, despite the play resulting in a dunk that put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter. Why? Durant knew the opposing team would call a timeout and in all likelihood he would not re-enter the game.

Durant also yelled at teammates for not pushing the ball when he alone would benefit from an easy basket, even when not pushing the ball was the better choice. And more than ever before, Durant can be seen raising his hands as he stands on the perimeter, calling for the ball as if his teammates don’t know where he is at all times. It is not easy to commit to an action when your team’s best player — and the league’s leading scorer — is looking for the pass.

George Gervin’s and David Thompson’s scoring race in 1978 – when Thompson scored 73 point on the season’s final day only to lose the season title to Gervin, who scored 63 points later in the day – has been remembered fondly as a great individual battle.

Why can’t Durant and Melo try to repeat that magic?

The Thunder are fairly solidly slotted into the NBA’s third-best record. Even if they force-feed Durant a little bit – and maybe they should, considering his true shooting percentage is his career best, and his usage percentage is still below his career average – Oklahoma City’s playoff positioning is very likely to remain unaffected.

Durant is a superstar, and if he wants to chase the scoring title, the Thunder should accommodate him. Superstars have made much more unreasonable requests. That’s the nature of the game. Superstars get their way. If this is the most Durant taxes the Thunder for his services, they should be so lucky.

An obsessively competitive person with an otherworldly ability to score wants to win a scoring title? So long as his focus shifts to winning first once the playoffs begin, Durant should get the leeway to chase this if that’s what he wants.

  1. hartdaddy - Apr 4, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    Love it, here come the people defending Durant but those same people wouldn’t hesitate to slam Melo for “Only caring about this scoring title”, even though he’s never mentioned it & never does crap like this. Yelling at the Scorers Table? Seriously?

    • gmen4life33 - Apr 4, 2013 at 6:49 PM

      Randomly Met KD on UMD campus (he said he was visiting some high school friends who were on the team) and he seemed so humble and down to earth. He talked with a friend and I for several minutes, could have easily blown us off. Always liked him but that really made me root for him, despite being a die-hard Knicks fan.

      That was 4 years ago, but I still find this story equal parts disturbing and hard to believe. KD is suppose to be the good-guy Superstar. Raising his hand cuz he wants to score? That’s perfectly fine. But yelling at a teammate for making the right 3-1 pass that results in a dunk? Please tell me this isnt true. I want to see the video of that cuz he does not seem like the type of player to do that. Look up his background story, how he was raised, how his mentor passed away and it humbled him. Please tell me you’re not losing that KD.

    • josephululati - Apr 4, 2013 at 6:51 PM

      As for how he’s playing, he’s just taking charge as the leader of the team, and is realizing what a crazy scoring threat he is, so he’s putting it to god use…as is Carmelo.
      As for yelling at the scorers table, he was honestly just making sure they add the 2 points to the teams total, so that they can win. I severely doubt it was about his personal total…he’s much more concerned about the number next to OKC.
      You can tell he cares about the team because when he sits out, he’s yelling and cheering, coaching them, etc.
      I don’t get why people are trying to make Durant out to be this bad guy all of a sudden.

    • eventhorizon04 - Apr 4, 2013 at 7:12 PM

      Durant averages 2 more assists per game and 4 fewer shots per game than Carmelo, and despite passing more and shooting less, Durant is beating Carmelo in scoring average.

    • abasketballthing - Apr 4, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      I’ve been one of KD’s biggest supporters, and I defended him every time people said his niceness wasn’t real, but he has clearly changed this season. Maybe it’s because he lost in the Finals and is obsessed with becoming better than LeBron and the Heat, or because some of his teammates didn’t deliver in the Finals, but there’s an enormous difference between the nice guy KD and this one. It’s more than being ultra competitive. He’s not as respectful of his teammates, his opponents, his coach and the officials as he used to be. I’m also one of the people who slam Melo every time he screws up, and I think KD deserves much more criticism than Melo does this season.

  2. eagles512 - Apr 4, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Big Durant fan but between this and the whole end of quarter thing really has me thinking twice about it.

  3. eventhorizon04 - Apr 4, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    Not an OKC fan, but I’m not sure I agree with this.

    One of the criticisms of Durant is that sometimes he’s “too passive” and doesn’t demand the ball enough. He leads his team in scoring but is only second in shot-attempts. Given how efficient he is with the ball (shooting 50% FG-40% 3-PTs-90% FT), it’s probably better for the team if he touches the ball more.

    Consider this: This alleged “whiny, ball-hogging, scoring-title gunner” version of Kevin Durant is averaging 17.9 shots per game.

    Carmelo Anthony is averaging 21.8 shots per game.

    So Carmelo Anthony is taking 20% more shots per game, yet is still scoring less per game than Durant (28.1 versus 28.3). If Durant took as many shots are Carmelo per game, he’d probably comfortably win the scoring title every year. As it stands, even with him “demanding the ball too much,” he’s still taking significantly fewer shots than Carmelo (who is shooting 44% FG-37% 3PT-83% FT).

    When Russell Westbrook takes 18.7 shots per game despite shooting 43%, perhaps it’s a good thing Durant is demanding the ball more.

  4. lucifershuttlesworth - Apr 4, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Is this part of his “Not Nice” image makeover? I much preferred the humble young superstar thing he previously had going. I wouldn’t be surprised to see ego and team chemistry issues contribute to OKC getting eliminated before the WCF. At which point all blame will of course be put on Westbrook.

  5. savvybynature - Apr 4, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Well, he better be focused on just winning the game tonight against a Spurs team that I think will be focused on just that.
    If he is playing the T-Pups or something that’s a different story, I guess, but yelling at teammates for making the right play isn’t a good look for anyone.

  6. kitch1284 - Apr 4, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    If melo averaged as many minutes as KD per game he’d already have the lead. Also melo doesn’t have the support of a russel Westbrook so he faces way more double teams and still scores at will.

  7. themagicfanguy - Apr 4, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    That’s the problem with being the “nice guy/humble kid”, you have to STAY nice/humble or they hate you for it until you win a championship and wipe away past actions.

  8. 00maltliquor - Apr 5, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    Another great scoring battle is when David Robinson stole the scoring title on the last regular season game from Shaquille O’Neal, scoring 70-something to do so.

    • michaeljordanseviltwin - Apr 5, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      I didn’t realize the admiral’s 71-point game had this sort of context. I did the math and indeed without those points he wouldn’t have overtaken O’Neal for the scoring title. Crazy!

  9. jimmybx - Apr 5, 2013 at 3:32 AM

    Durant is a 1 dimensional perimeter player. Play him tight, force him to dribble and watch him flop for fouls all the time. The refs get tired of that BS. Melo, on the other hand, has always been the better all-around player. Melo’s physical strength helps him overwhelm guys Durant can only dream of overpowering.

    NBA hype is laughable. The NBA is so desperate to promote Durant as some elite player. It’s a joke…

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      That’s either biasedness at it’s best or ignorance at it’s worst, that comment right there^

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