Say goodbye to Kevin Durant the guard. The Thunder’s reigning Rookie of the Year is now a small forward, finally playing the position many NBA minds think best fits his gangly 6-foot-10 frame and versatile skill set.
In his first move as Thunder interim coach, Scott Brooks shifted Durant from shooting guard to small forward, bringing an end to a 92-game experiment designed to protect the rail thin Durant against bigger, stronger opponents. But Durant says he’s ready to take on the move full time. "I definitely am,” Durant said. "That’s my natural position. I’ve been playing that mostly my whole life. The last game I felt a lot more comfortable at (small forward), guarding (small forwards) and just helping my team out in different areas. So I’m excited.” As a shooting guard, Durant often stood around the 3-point line waiting for the ball to be swung his way. His offense was primarily one-dimensional, heavy on jump shots over small defenders, resulting in few drives to the basket and an average field-goal percentage. He averaged 20.3 points last season on 43 percent shooting. At small forward, Durant’s field-goal percentage is expected to improve as he moves closer to the basket and his rebounding numbers are expected to rise as well, helping to turn him into more of the complete player he was in his one season at Texas. In his first game at small forward on Saturday at New Orleans, Durant scored 30 points on a season-high 68.7 percent shooting and went to the free-throw line eight times, his second-most attempts of the season. Brooks moved Jeff Green to power forward to free up the small forward position for Durant, kicking off the start to the forward tandem the franchise wants to develop for the future. "It gives them an opportunity to get in positions where they can take better shots and be able to guard guys easier,” Brooks said.