He’s not a shooting guard.
He can’t dribble.
He wasn’t even trying.
I’ve heard all the above about Kevin Durant and much more about the second-year guard’s Oklahoma City debut. There’s no question Durant had a bad night. He missed all four of his shots in the first half and made 5 of 10 in the second half to finish with 12 points. He had five turnovers, five fouls and only three rebounds and two assists.
And in many ways it was an encouraging performance for Durant. Seeing his shot continue to miss the mark, he refrained from settling for jump shots. He tried to get to the basket. He tried to post up. He tried to get his teammates involved.
He was growing before our eyes.
“I think that’s one of the areas he improved the most, particularly from early last year,” said coach P.J. Carlesimo. ”He just tried to shoot himself out of a bad start or a slump.”
Durant, it’s important to remember, is the focal point of every team’s game plan. Five sets of eyes always are fixated on his every move, and it takes some time for young players to figure out how to attack that on the NBA level.
“That was a big part of his learning curve last year,” Carlesimo said. ”And it’s not like he didn’t see double teams in college. He’s used to being the focal point of the opponents’ defense. But how you deal with it on this level is tougher because of (opponents’) size.
“When you’re as big as Kevin is and you can shoot it, he’s always kind of been able to shoot over people. But if people are going to be physical and move him away from the basket or they’re going to double him then a lot of times it means putting it on the floor, trying to get closer or involving somebody else or else posting him more, which we’re already doing way more than we did last year.”
Carlesimo talked about Durant needing to read and react faster to double teams that are thrown his way in the post and against traps on pick and rolls.
“He made some good passes last night, some of which yielded something and a couple of which didn’t,” Carlesimo said. “He made a couple of passes once or twice I think and guys went to the basket and got fouled. They didn’t score so it wasn’t an assist.”
Keep an eye on Durant’s free throw attempts, too. He attempted just two foul shots Wednesday. Great scorers almost always draw fouls and rely on their points coming at the free throw line when their shots aren’t falling. Durant, who is an 87 percent free throw shooter, must learn to do the same.
But don’t read too much into one off night.