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Kevin Durant's game can get even better — and it did at World Championships

Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shined at the World Championships in Istanbul. Durant's shooting stats were impressive, and he shouldered the load for Team USA.
by Berry Tramel Modified: September 12, 2010 at 10:13 pm •  Published: September 12, 2010
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photo - Tournament MVP USA's Kevin Durant, left, celebrates with teammates after the final of the World Basketball Championship between Turkey and the USA, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010, in Istanbul. USA won 81-64. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Tournament MVP USA's Kevin Durant, left, celebrates with teammates after the final of the World Basketball Championship between Turkey and the USA, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010, in Istanbul. USA won 81-64. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Kevin Durant kept stepping back — back, back, back, back, back — and drilling 3-pointers. No rattling around the rim. No bouncing off the board. Just ball after ball going like wipers on the bus. Swish, swish, swish.

That ridiculous shooting delivered not only a gold medal to the U.S. in basketball's World Championships on Sunday in Istanbul, but a warning stateside.

Durant's game can get even better. It did, right before our eyes, in the worlds.

Maybe in a few years, when Durant and his sidekick, Russell Westbrook, have 600, 700 NBA games on their legs, we won't get so fired up about their adventures in international basketball. Maybe we'll want them to spend the summers with their feet up.

But now, both awaiting their 22nd birthdays, this kind of performance on this kind of stage can only be good for the Thunder.

Durant always has seemed like one of the best shooters on the planet. Watch his form, watch his results, and you'd swear he's one of the NBA's top marksmen.

But not so, at least statistically. Durant's 3-point shooting percentages in his three years in the league: .288, .422 and .365 (when he shot 50 percent more treys than the previous year).

Good shooting these last two years, but not amazing.

Durant was amazing in Istanbul. His overall numbers: 22.8 points a game, 56 percent shooting, 46 percent 3-point shooting.

Yes, the NBA 3-point line is anywhere from 19 to 39 inches longer than the international line. Which is less relevant to Durant than most players. Durant shoots deep threes. Shoots from territory that defenders can't imagine he'll launch. Most of his Turkish 3-pointers were NBA 3-pointers.

Even more impressive for Durant, his shooting improved in the biggest games. From the quarterfinals on, Durant made 15 of 34 3-pointers. In a 70-68 pool-play squeaker over Brazil, Durant made four of six. That's 19 of 40, .475 percent, when Durant was needed most.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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