Scoring: A. No surprise here. Durant is the best scorer on the planet. His 32-point scoring average this season was a career high and earned him his fourth scoring title in five seasons. But it was also the efficiency with which Durant scored. Despite needing to assume more responsibility while Russell Westbrook healed from knee surgeries, Durant’s career-high 20.8 average shot attempts barely budged his accuracy. He still shot 50.3 percent from the floor, 39.1 percent from 3-point range and 87.3 percent from the foul line.
Playmaking: A. One of the best aspects of Durant’s season was he didn’t try to do it all himself. He continued to set up his teammates with the pass. He averaged a career-high 5.5 assists, the third straight season that he improved his assist average, and never let scoring feats dictate his style of play. In doing so, Durant made the game easier for himself and the Thunder tougher to defend. Live with covering Durant one on one and he’d burn you. Load up on him and try to eliminate him as a scoring threat and he’d slice you up with the pass.
Defense: B. It was one of Durant’s best years defensively despite some inconsistency. He showed significant improvement in staying with and stopping his man. That’s when Durant was at his best, according to Synergy Sports data. Using his footwork and length to hound his men, Durant limited opponents to 0.66 points per possession on isolations and held them to 27.6 percent shooting in those situations. A year ago, Durant gave up 0.73 points per possession and 33.8 percent shooting when isolated. Off the ball is where Durant struggled most, as he often got caught ball-watching or simply napping as his man beat him backdoor or in transition for layups and dunks. Durant’s blocked shots fell from 105 a year ago to 59 this season, perhaps one indicator of his defensive struggles off the ball. Still, that doesn’t overshadow what was a promising season for Durant defensively. He took a big step toward shedding his reputation as a poor defender. Now he must build on it.
Free-throw shooting: B. Durant attempted a career-high 805 free throws and made 703, both figures leading the league this season. But that 87.3 percent clip was down from the previous season, when Durant shot a career-best 90.5 percent at the foul line. Strangely, Durant was better on the road (88.9 percent) than he was at home (85.7 percent). And the truest sign that fatigue set in was seen in his pre- and post-All-Star percentages. Durant converted 88.2 percent of his foul shot before the break but dipped to 85.7 percent after the break.
Downshifting: B. According to basketball-reference.com, Durant spent a career-high 25 percent of his minutes playing the power forward position this season. When the Thunder moved Durant to power forward and played with a small lineup, it put on the floor one of its most potent offensive units. Three of the Thunder’s top four most efficient offensive lineups came with Durant at power forward, according to 82games.com. The problem was defense. The Thunder struggled at times to consistently defend teams when relying on its small-ball look. Rebounding and protecting the rim became trouble areas. And though Durant tried his best to bang on the block, he suffered a drastic dip defensively, yielding 0.86 points per possession and 47.4 percent on post-ups, up from 0.75 points per possession and 37.2 percent last season.