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Kevin Durant: ‘I can do a lot more’

May 13, 2013, 12:41 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant falls to the floor against Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen in the final moments in the second half of their Game 2 NBA Western Conference semi-final playoff basketball game in Oklahoma City.

Anyway you slice it, Kevin Durant is doing a lot for the Thunder.

Traditional stats say Durant is averaging 34.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.6 steals in 44.3 minutes per game since Russell Westbrook’s injury.

Advanced stats say Durant has 2.2 win shares for a team that has won five playoff games, which means Durant alone has accounted for 44 percent of his team’s wins – the highest mark on a team still playing. Stephen Curry is closest at 32 percent. (Though the incredible Chris Paul accounted for 65 percent of the Clippers’ two wins.)

The eye test says Durant is playing exactly like a superstar should when his team is shorthanded.

Via Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:

“I can do a lot more,” Durant said Sunday. “It’s always things you can do more. I talk to one of my good friends and he said no matter how good you’re playing you always can do more.

“That’s how I look at it. I just got to find ways to help them out and put them in great positions and continue to just be a vocal leader, a positive leader on the bench and every single time down the court and we’ll be fine.”

I can’t help but think of LeBron James. In 2005-06, LeBron became arguably the best player in the NBA. That was the first season he got a first-place MVP vote, at least.

Anyway, beginning with that season, LeBron spent five years in Cleveland as arguably the league’s best player. In those five years, the Cavaliers were more likely to lose before the conference finals than reach them. The point being, carrying a team at this level is hard – really, really hard.

But it’s also an opportunity for Durant.

Durant just had the best season of his career, maybe the best season by anyone other than LeBron since the mid-1990s. But Durant got no MVP support, and LeBron again ran away with the award. As we all know, LeBron – not Durant – is the best basketball player in the world right now.

LeBron took a team that started Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes and Sasha Pavlovic to the NBA Finals. Two years later, he took a team that started Mo Williams, Delonte West, Ilgauskas and Varejao back to the conference finals.

If Durant can carry the Thunder – a team that still has a better supporting cast than LeBron’s Cavs but plays in a much-tougher Western Conference – to the NBA Finals, the feat could vault Durant into the peripheral of the best-player discussion.

I don’t know whether Durant can do more, but I look forward to watching him try.

  1. asimonetti88 - May 13, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    I love Durant’s attitude. He is always trying to get better, he takes responsibility when the team isn’t playing well, and shares the praise with his teammates when they are playing well. I don’t know if the Thunder will advance, but if they do, it would be more impressive than LeBron taking the Cavs to the Finals. While the Thunder have a better team than the Cavs did (even without Westbrook probably), the 2013 Western Conference is much, much tougher than the East was at that time (and still today too).

    • fanofevilempire - May 13, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      man shut up and put up!

      • asimonetti88 - May 13, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        He is putting up. He’s putting up 34.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.6 steals in 44.3 minutes in fact.

      • jimeejohnson - May 13, 2013 at 5:09 PM

        What part of ” Durant is averaging 34.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.6 steals in 44.3 minutes” did you fail to comprehend? I think you are referring to your team, the New Yawk Knicks.

  2. eventhorizon04 - May 13, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Kevin Durant in the playoffs so far:
    32 pts -9 rbs – 6 asts
    With 49% FG – 29% 3PT – 85% FT

    LeBron James in the playoffs last year:
    30 pts – 10 rbs – 6 asts
    With 50% FG – 26% 3PT – 74% FT

    LeBron last year became the first player ever to average 30 pts -10 rbs – 6 asts in the playoffs throughout an NBA Finals run. The only other players to average a 30-10 statline in the playoffs are centers, and none of them had 6 assists.

    If OKC somehow wins the championship this year, Durant would only become the second person ever to post a similar statline, which is a “I’m doing a lot of everything – scoring, rebounding, and facilitating” statline. So it’s very hard for a forward to do much more than Durant is doing.

    • eventhorizon04 - May 13, 2013 at 1:31 PM

      The issue here is OKC is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

      Playing “big” (with both Ibaka and Perkins on the floor) helps the Thunder matchup against the Grizzlies defensively, but it kills their offense.

      Going “small” with Durant at the 4 opens up the Thunder offense, but Durant can’t matchup physically against either Marc Gasol (a true center) or Z-Bo (a true power-forward), so that hurts the Thunder’s defense.

      This is just a bad matchup for OKC since their “big” lineup needs Westbrook to be dynamic enough on offense to succeed despite having a complete non-contributor on offense like Perkins on the floor.

  3. biasedhomer - May 13, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    With the injury Westbrook, Martin has become the second option. They have no one else who can ease the burden of scoring for Durant.

  4. thetariqahmad - May 13, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    I respect KD’s game, he is RAW and can def BALL. but he just can’t make his teammates BETTER. like when people compare KD’s team to Lebron’s 07′ team, there is NO COMPARISON. KD has a much better team but he just can’t make them better. LeBron made those guys look really good where in reality they were just good avg players.

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