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Kevin Durant wants to shoot less with Westbrook out, needs help from teammates

Jan 14, 2014, 2:10 PM EST

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

It’s not that Kevin Durant wants to shoot more with Russell Westbrook out, it’s that he doesn’t have much of a choice if the Thunder want to score a lot of points (and they do, that remains kind of an important thing in basketball).

In the nine games since Westbrook went out with another knee injury Durant is scoring 34.2 points a game (up from 29.6 on the season), is taking 22.1 shots a game (19.2), 6.9 from three (5.1), and has a true shooting percentage of 62.2 percent (62.7).

He’s taking on more of the offense — his usage percentage is 34.2 percent in the last nine, up from 31.1 for the season — as we all expected he would.

But that’s not how Durant wants it to be — he wants to be more of a facilitator. That’s what he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.

“I’m not doing enough to help them,” Durant said of his teammates. “I’m shooting too much. I’m shooting too many 3s. I’m not helping them out at all. So it’s not on them.”

“The first few games without Russell, we did a great job moving the ball,” Durant said. “I think now I’m just flat out shooting too much. I have to find a way to get my teammates easier shots. I’ve been thinking these last few games in order for us to get it going I have to do it all offensively. But, nah, we have to do it together. It’s a great learning experience for me. It’s the first time I’ve really been in that type of position. But I just have to get everybody involved. I may have to pass up a few to find a better shot.”

The problem to me isn’t all Durant — passing the ball is only half of an assist, the other half is the guy knocking down the shot.

In the nine games without Westbrook Jeremy Lamb is shooting 41.8 percent, Kendrick Perkins 40.5 percent, Reggie Jackson 40.4 percent, Thabo Sefolosha 38.7 percent and Derek Fisher 37 percent.

We saw this before with Kobe Bryant — when he had teammates not hitting shots he took on more of the offense because he knew he would make them. The difference is Kobe has no guilt over that, Durant does.

He will be on the court Tuesday despite a sore wrist, and expect him to try to be more of a facilitator. We’ll see if his teammates are up to that challenge.

  1. antistratfordian - Jan 14, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    “We saw this before with Kobe Bryant — when he had teammates not hitting shots he took on more of the offense because he knew he would make them. The difference is Kobe has no guilt over that, Durant does.”

    No no no… Kobe does that even when his teammates are hitting shots. Bryant has led the league in field goal attempts in 6 of the last 8 years – in 2011-12 Kobe took 23 shots a game! – even alongside All-Star teammates who were shooting over 50%. So that’s a very different situation.

    Another difference is Kobe was always shooting 45-46%. Teammates seeing a lot of hogging and bricks = resentment. Durant has been shooting 50% over the last three years.

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      In the season you are referring to, Bynum took 13.3 shots per game. That is 3 more than any other season in his career, and almost 6 more than he took the season before.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 14, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        He and Gasol needed more touches than that… Kobe almost matched their shots combined (23 to 27). More shots to Bynum and Gasol at over 50% shooting and the Lakers would’ve been better off – especially since Kobe shot a miserable 43% that year.

        And hey, don’t forget that Kobe admitted he stunted Bynum’s growth.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        Maybe Mike Brown should have developed something resembling an offensive system then.

        But alas, that must have been Kobe sabotaging Brown. After all, the Cavaliers this year have shown to be the pinnacle of offensive efficiency.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        Yeah, it was Kobe who told Bynum to pick up bowling, stop caring about basketball and generally be so annoying that his team paid him to stay away from them.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 14, 2014 at 2:52 PM

        “But alas, that must have been Kobe sabotaging Brown.”

        Kobe “sabotages” everyone and everything he plays with – not just Brown. It’s always a constant struggle because he’s going to shoot too much regardless of who or what.

        And Kobe knows this, that’s why he said, “when you’re playing with me you obviously have to sacrifice something.” But that doesn’t just mean teammates sacrificing shots – it also means his team has to sacrifice good shots for his bad shots – and that’s what’s maddening at times for every coach he’s had.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 3:59 PM

        Are you actually suggesting that Mike Brown isn’t a terrible offensive coach? And that he had a good offensive gameplan for the Lakers? Have you ever watched a Mike Brown coached team? Or Cavaliers NBA season 2013-14?

      • antistratfordian - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:08 PM

        “Are you actually suggesting that Mike Brown isn’t a terrible offensive coach?”

        It wouldn’t have mattered. It doesn’t matter who the coach is with Kobe. And Brown’s Cavs had an elite offense with LeBron.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:29 PM

        “It doesn’t matter who the coach is with Kobe.”

        Seems to me they had a pretty good offense when Phil Jackson was the coach.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:44 PM

        Kobe still shot too much with Jackson, Brown, D’Antoni… didn’t matter. All of them complained about it publicly at one point or another – especially Jackson.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        “Kobe still shot too much with Jackson, Brown, D’Antoni… didn’t matter. All of them complained about it publicly at one point or another – especially Jackson.”

        Seems to me they had a pretty good offense when Phil Jackson was the coach.

      • sportsfan18 - Jan 14, 2014 at 10:22 PM

        You know, these two things are NOT mutually exclusive.

        A team may have a good offense but players and coaches may STILL argue and complain about things with said offense, like ball hogging, bricks, too many shots etc…

        While said offense may have been pretty good, it COULD have been even better.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 10:24 PM

        Considering they won 5 championships, do you really think the offense needed to be better?

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      The difference between kobe’s style of play and durant’s style of play is that kobe knows how to make his teammates better and durant is not there yet. Durant is taller than everybody and a great shooter, so naturally he resorts to shooting long two’s and 3’s. While he’s very efficient, it doesn’t really open up the defense and create open shots for others. Kobe is much more versatile, and he knows how to set up his teammates. Durant is still young, but he would benefit if he learned a post game. The thunder need someone down low who can command a double team, and I think it would open up the floor for his teammates.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:57 PM

        “The difference between kobe’s style of play and durant’s style of play is that kobe knows how to make his teammates better…”

        Hilarious. That made coffee shoot out of my nose. Good one!

      • aboogy123456 - Jan 15, 2014 at 8:18 AM

        I know you’re not very smart but you didn’t really counter my point at all. The point is that kobe attacks the basket more and can play both inside and outside. Durant tends to settle for long jumpshots. If you have a more attacking style, or if you play inside and force a double team more, then you can do a better job of creating open shots. If you want to hate kobe so much, at least try to make an argument with substance.

  2. asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Durant should shoot more. He is unbelievably good.

  3. spursareold - Jan 14, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    “Maybe Mike Brown should have developed something resembling an offensive system then.”

    Maybe Scott Brooks, should, too. They have only two plays: clear out fo KD and clearout for RW. Now, they’re down to one.

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      Brooks should also stop playing Kendrick Perkins so much.

    • antistratfordian - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:17 PM

      It’s not on Brown anyway. He only tried to implement what was actually a terrible Kobe idea – the Princeton offense.

      Brown certainly wasn’t telling Kobe to keep shooting even though he was having a terrible shooting year. In fact, he was saying the exact opposite in the press – he publicly called out Kobe a few times for his poor shooting.

      But Mamba is so self-absorbed and twisted that this only causes him to shoot more. You see, Kobr is very sensitive – the tough exterior he puts out there is only a false persona.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:30 PM

        Your obsession with Kobe is creepy.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        That’s about the 2085th time a hater has said that to me. Henry Abbott gets that a lot too – but it only means we’re on the right track, so it’s great support. I would have to pause and reconsider my position if I thought I was no longer agitating Kobe fans.

        Agitation in this sense meaning to stir thought to reveal truths – not to agitate for the sake of annoying.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:43 PM

        Not a Kobe fan. Lakers fan. Not even my favorite player on the team (Pau is, and MWP was until this year). You just allow your obsession with him to bias your opinion too much.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        You’re wrong. My opinion of him is only the most precise and consistent one you’re ever going to come across. It upsets some people – as truths do – but that’s not my problem.

      • aboogy123456 - Jan 14, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        Henry Abbott is an idiot who over analyzes stats and doesn’t understand basketball and what causes the stats to happen.

  4. logicalcomment - Jan 14, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    lolololol dereck fisher is still playing!!!!

  5. lhollis74 - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:37 PM

    Anti, how is it that you are so critical of The Most accomplished player hands down playing today? It’s not as if he’s not reaching his potential. If he’s so terrible, by your standards, who should Kobe be more like? And do they have 5 titles to show for it? Every player in the league would trade their accomplishments for Kobe’s and hope to achieve even close to what he has done, but you see him as subpar!?
    Some people like being contrarians is that you? Some people, if they had to be one of the five fingers on a hand, they would always choose to be the thumb. That’s you, always the irritant.

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