Soon-to-be NBA MVP Kevin Durant headlines the spectacular Longhorn basketball year. We discussed this back in January.
The 25 year old Durant elevated his game to career highs and carried an injury-riddled (and sometimes puzzling) OKC roster to the #2 seed in the Western Conference while averaging 32 points per game, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists. Along the way, Durant shot better than 50% from the field and 87% from the free throw line operating in a Scott Brooks offense best described as "Hey, Kevin, umm, do something extremely difficult so that we can score!"
For historical context, only three NBA players have ever scored more than 2500 points, grabbed 500 rebounds and had 400 assists in one season. Kevin Durant is now one of them. The other two are Wilt Chamberlain & Michael Jordan. They were good.
Durant scored more than 30 points 45 times this year while simultaneously achieving a career high in assists. In fact, during most of Westbrook's absence, Durant played de facto point guard. Without Westbrook, Durant led the Thunder to a 25-11 record while playing and defending three positions on any given night.
Any knock on Kevin Durant as a defender isn't just outdated - it's now legitimately ignorant and a reasonable litmus test for people who parrot opinion and those who watch games. According to Synergy, KD the defender has one of the lowest opponent field goal percentages in one-on-one situations in the NBA. This is how he stacks up next to Lebron James (props to Daily Thunder & Synergy) guarding individual shooters:
|Overall||Isolation||Spot-up||P&R Ball-Handler||Post Up|
|Durant||0.78 ppp (34.3 FG%)||0.48 ppp (20.9 FG%)||0.85 ppp (32.1 FG%)||0.54 ppp (33.3 FG%)||0.73 ppp (37.5 FG%)|
|LeBron||0.86 ppp (38.3 FG%)||0.92 ppp (42.1 FG%)||0.92 ppp (34.5 FG%)||0.58 ppp (35.7 FG%)||0.81 ppp (47.1 FG%)|