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Better Without Durant?

The Elias Sports Bureau has produced numbers that make a fairly compelling case -- the Thunder is a better team with Kevin Durant on the bench.

Durant averaged over 30 ppg in February, but OKC went 3-12. In the last five games, with Durant sidelined by a bum ankle, the Thunder has gone 4-1. The biggest change is on defense... with Durant on the floor, OKC allows 104.8 points per 48 minutes. Without him, that number drops to 95.8.

Yes, the sample size is exceedingly small... and two of those wins came against two of the league's worst teams -- Memphis and Washington.

Still -- it's a trend worth watching.

There's no reason that Durant can't follow the same career path as other elite scorers that have become good-to-great defenders... Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Paul Pierce and even Michael Jordan spring immediately to mind. He certainly has the physical tools. But so did dozens... hundreds, even... of other NBA players over the years.

Comments

By: kevinccp
On: 3/9/2009 12:09:00 PM
I looked it up because I figured the case was such-the Thunder are only scoring 92.4 points a game without Durant. Durant was shooting 53 percent in Feb from the field, so while he may be a liability on D, he was shooting lights out on offense. I'd attribute the Thunder's success partly to the emergence of Nenad Krstic, who's averaging 16.4 points a game since Durant went down. There's also the theory that players typically step up their game when the star is out, which may be in play here.
 
By: Jason Thornbury
On: 3/9/2009 3:44:00 PM
I'm not buying this either. For one, there are too many variables in play to pin the point differential on one factor. For another, the level of competition probably has more to do with it.

Counting the game in which Durant was injured in the first quarter, the team has played six games without him. Memphis, which was only one point under its season average, and Washington suck. So, that doesn't mean much. In two Durant-less games, Dallas scored more than its season average once and less than its season average once. Call that a push. New Orleans outscored its average. Philly was under, but the 76ers were playing on the second night of back-to-back road games and are a mediocre team anyway. Again, not all that shocking.

The team was 2-8 in February with Durant, but five of its seven opponents are likely playoff teams. Without Durant, the best the team has faced is only borderline playoff teams in Dallas and Philly.

They might be better defensively with Durant out, but they aren't a better *team.* Their scoring is way off, and they are winning by playing good defense against some mediocre-at-best teams.
 
By: whiteapple
On: 12/2/2010 6:21:00 AM
Kevin Durant is the only reliable player on his team, he is very accurate and has serious range. I know what I'm talking about because I've downloaded almost all the games ( http://filecraft.comSE) He rebounds well for a SF and plays OK defense. He is not a complete player but is great offensively and will average even more than last year(25).
 
By: azeeh
On: 12/8/2010 2:50:00 AM
Kevin Durant is really a strong spirit in the team. I won’t say that team will be just incomplete without him but yes, he is an important part of the team. He was the player, whom the sports lovers trusted always. His smart play some times used to amaze me a lot. His skill of encouraging the co-players was really wonderful. But sometimes it happens that other players in team show their real game or improve their game when people like Durant are out from it. Mephisto
 

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