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The Extra Pass: Putting some numbers, perspective to Kevin Durant’s amazing season

Feb 10, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Orlando Magic Getty Images

Kevin Durant is going to be your MVP.

He could well lead his Oklahoma City Thunder back to the NBA Finals — Oklahoma City has set the bar in the West this season. If another team (San Antonio, Golden State, Memphis, Portland, the Clippers) has designs on reaching the Finals out of the West they are going to have to do it by besting OKC. Right now I’m not sure any of them can.

Durant is having a monster season — it was a typically very good season until Russell Westbrook needed another knee surgery. We all expected OKC to still be good but stumble a little, instead we have seen the best of Durant, who has shown an amazing ability to both score efficiently and create shots for the Thunder.

To try and get my head around what he’s done and how he’s going it, I went to the numbers from the NBA’s Sports VU cameras, plus the breakdowns from Synergy Sports, and those together those paint a fascinating picture.

• Durant leads NBA in points per touch (of guys who have played in at least 35 games) — he touches the ball 66 times a game (38th most often in the league) but scores .46 points per touch.

• While Durant averages 5.5 assists per game he creates 10.1 assist opportunities a game for his teammates (he sets guys up that often, they just don’t always hit the shot).

• Durant averages 5.5 drives a game that start outside 20 feet and get inside 10 feet, and he is shooting 58 percent on those plays.

• What Durant does a lot is pull up — takes a dribble or a few them pulls up from outside 10 feet. He does that 7.5 times a game and shoots 45.6 percent on those (eighth best in the NBA of the guys who take at least two a game). What you don’t want to let him doo is pull up off the dribble from three, he is shooting 46.9 percent on those.

• Fitting with that, the primary way Durant gets his shots is as the pick-and-roll ball handler (allowing him to drive or pull up) — he gets 20.6 percent of his offense that way and shoots 53 percent, scoring 1.04 points per possession on those plays.

• Durant also gives you a lot of isolation — 16.6 percent of his shots come that way and he shoots 45.6 percent overall, but he knocks down his threes in isolation (51.1 percent) and he gets to the line, so he scores an impressive 1.09 points per possession that way.

• He is a beast in transition — 15.4 percent of his shot attempts come that way and he shoots 64.3 percent.

• If you want a weakness, he averaged 4.6 points a game from catch-and-shoot opportunities and is shooting only 39.2 percent on those.

  1. cantonbound13 - Feb 10, 2014 at 8:26 AM

    MVP! Best player not on PEDs.

    • gameisours - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      Well, second best player would suffice regardless of PEDs

    • antistratfordian - Feb 10, 2014 at 4:14 PM

      Hate to get all real for a second, but we don’t really know if he’s on PEDs or not – just like any other player. You don’t have to be ripped and jacked to be on the juice – look at Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu or Kobe.

  2. velocirep - Feb 10, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    Durant has been a beast, let’s just leave it at that. MosT of those VU stats can be very misleading and of little practical use. You couldn’t accurately ‘stat-ify’ what great players have. Locker room leadership, class, IQ, etc. One of the most under-examined qualities of great players is they’re ability to eat whoever is in front of them. General statistics can’t be the be all, end all of the MVP vote. Example: A game where Durant puts up 26pts 12asts vs leBrons 25pts & 12 rebounds and Durant get the win is far more telling of how great a player he is than if he put up 45 & 15 against A team like Utah or Charlotte and just racked up stats.
    Great players have the ability to put up what’s needed, not just get general stats. VU stats are for the sports nerd that doesn’t play. Too many stats kill the game. Just sit back and watch the players play and keep the stats simple.

    • dinofrank60 - Feb 10, 2014 at 6:34 PM

      You are a brave soul… Stay strong.

  3. loungefly74 - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Durant is easily the 2nd best player in the league. the question is, will he end up ringless because the best player in the league is snatching them all up? it’s true.

    • pbtunpaidwriter - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      I ‘m a HUGE Lebron fan and want to continue saying LBJ is the best in the NBA but KD may soon be surpassing Lebron, if not already.

      He SHUT DOWN Melo yesterday with his ridiculous length and passed like a PG. KD is a better scorer than Lebron (and wayyy better shooter) and his rebounding is on par with him as well. His defense is much improved and his passing is improving by the day. Lebron clearly has a better handle though but KD’s handle is elite for his size so it’s not a big difference.

      To do all this at 7ft tall – he’s UNGUARDABLE. LBJ may be #1 because of his rings but the Slim Reaper will get his rings soon.

  4. lastdukestreetking - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    @cantonbound13: who is the best player on PEDs?

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      Barry Bonds

    • cantonbound13 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      The chokin’ one

  5. spursareold - Feb 10, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    I wonder if those SportVU cameras can capture how many times his hand goes underneath the ball each game for an uncalled carry? I’d put the O/U at about 8-9, and I’d take the over.

  6. jbeagles23 - Feb 10, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Cantonbound just admitted lebron is the best player in the league

  7. Very Real News - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    “… what he’s done and how he’s going it…”

    “… and those together those…”

    “… don’t want to let him doo is…”

    Hey, NBC Sports, how about hiring some copy editors and NOT overworking them to the point they miss these things?

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