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.


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