Five reasons for Kevin Durant's slow start

OKC's Kevin Durant is shooting just 39 percent from the field through six games. Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry looks at five possible explanations for the superstar forward's slump.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: November 9, 2010 at 7:21 pm •  Published: November 9, 2010

He dominated play in the FIBA World Championship, entered this season pegged as the front-runner for MVP and showed flashes of dominance in the preseason. So why is Kevin Durant shooting 39 percent from the field through six games, while averaging more than twice as many turnovers as assists? It's become one of the biggest mysteries to the Oklahoma City Thunder's season thus far. But here are five possible reasons why Durant has gotten off to a slow start.

Stronger defenses: No one inside the Thunder's organization thought added attention on Durant would be a problem. But so far it has thrown him off his rhythm. Already, we've seen opposing teams run two additional defenders at Durant the moment he catches the ball. It's made Durant make quicker decisions, which has led to rushed shots and additional turnovers.

Lack of support: The Thunder's supposed improved supporting cast has been anything but to start this season. Thabo Sefolosha, Jeff Green, James Harden and Daequan Cook so far have failed in their roles of taking pressure off Durant by providing floor spacing through perimeter shooting to keep defenses honest. That foursome has shot a combined 10 of 57 (17.5 percent) from 3-point range. Their ineffectiveness has allowed more eyes to lock in on Durant and more defenders to load up without the threat of someone else knocking down open shots. And because his teammates are also in so much of a shooting funk, Durant's playmaking hasn't paid off thus far either.

He's pressing: In his fourth season, Durant is attempting to make his biggest leap as a complete player by becoming a bona fide playmaker. The ball is in Durant's hands more than it's ever been and it has taken away from what he does best, which is score. Durant has admitted to thinking too much on the court rather than playing instinctively as he's always done. That largely explains his current 4.6-turnover average, as Durant has spent stretches over-passing and dribbling his way into charges. Durant was incredibly effective coming off screens last season, but he will never reach his full potential as a player by scoring mostly in those spots. The results of Durant's evolving playmaking skills might be repulsive now. But two seasons from now, he'll be much better by going through these current growing pains.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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THUNDER VS. SIXERS

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Oklahoma City Arena.

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722).

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

* Sixers guard Andre Iguodala is not expected to play tonight because of an Achilles injury.

* Philadelphia ranks third in steals with 9.43 per game.

* Thunder forward Jeff Green is doubtful tonight because of a sprained ankle.

PROJECTED STARTERS

THUNDER (3-3)

Pos., Player, Ht., Pts., Reb., Ast

G, Russell Westbrook, 6-3, 21.2, 6.5, 7.2

G, Thabo Sefolosha, 6-7, 3.0.4.5, 2.0

F, Kevin Durant, 6-9, 27.7, 7.0, 2.0

F, Serge Ibaka, 6-9, 10.5, 8.2, 0.0

C, Nenad Krstic, 7-0, 7.3, 5.3, 0.3

SIXERS (2-5)

Pos., Player, Ht., Pts., Reb., Ast

G, Jrue Holiday, 6-4, 14.1, 3.3, 6.1

G, Evan Turner, 6-7, 9.3, 6.0, 2.6

F, Andres Nocioni, 6-7, 9.0, 4.0, 1.1

F, Elton Brand, 6-9, 18.6, 8.1, 2.0

C, Spencer Hawes, 7-1, 4.6, 2.6, 0.6

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