In his past nine games, Kevin Durant is averaging a staggering 5.2 turnovers, continuing what's been an on-again, off-again problem that has plagued him throughout his career.
For the month of March, Durant is turning it over 4.1 times on average, tying his highest average for any month in his career.
“He's trying to make the right pass. It's just that we have to be able to execute it much better,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He's going to find his way through it. I just like the fact that he's trying to make those passes and trying to help his teammates score. But we have to definitely do a better job of not turning the ball over. We don't want to do that as a team and guys don't want to do it individually.”
Durant has had five games of at least six turnovers in this recent nine-game stretch. One of those games was a seven-turnover night. In another, Durant turned it over eight times.
“Some games you can live with some of the turnovers that are looking for his teammates. We're going to be able to figure out those plays much better,” Brooks said. “It's the high turnover games that he doesn't want and I don't want. Those are the areas that we have to be able to control a little bit.”
Durant earlier this season had shown signs of extraordinary growth as a ball-handler and playmaker. He averaged just 3.1 turnovers in both December and January, one of his lowest turnover rates of his career. In those months, he averaged 3.7 and 5.2 assists, respectively.
In February, Durant averaged 5.5 assists against 3.3 turnovers, the best assist-to-turnover ratios of his career in any one month.
His slippage this month, however, has largely been a result of countless careless passes that defenders have intercepted.
“Kevin has always figured out ways to get better and that's another area that he can get better in,” Brooks said.
Durant has taken on more of a facilitator role this year in the wake of James Harden's trade to Houston. He's averaging a career-high 4.5 assists and, for the first time in his career, should finish with more assists than turnovers.
Durant has maintained that involving others ultimately will make the Thunder a more dangerous team. Brooks said the ball will remain in Durant's hands.
“The high turnover guys in the league are some of the best players,” Brooks said “because you have the ball in your hands a lot. And we need the ball in his hands a lot.”
WESTERN CONFERENCE RIVALRIES
After a hard-fought game Wednesday at Memphis, point guard Russell Westbrook was asked if the Grizzlies are the Thunder's rival.
“Not sure,” Westbrook said. “I mean, I don't know who our rival is. So many teams; Dallas and San Antonio. Who knows? But I think the Western Conference is in itself a rival. Every team wants to beat each other. Every team wants to win.”
STILL NO ADDITIONAL MINUTES FOR JACKSON
Second-year Thunder guard Reggie Jackson has now supplied two consecutive solid performances off the bench, but they still might not be enough to warrant additional playing time.
“He did exactly what we wanted him to do, go in there and play his minutes hard,” Brooks said. “But Russell's one of the best point guards in the league. There's only 10 or 12 minutes behind him.”
Jackson scored eight points with six rebounds and one assist in 19 minutes in Tuesday's loss to Denver. His energy sparked the Thunder in the second half when the Nuggets threatened to run away. Against the Grizzlies on Wednesday, Jackson scored seven points with three rebounds in 23 minutes. It was the most minutes Jackson has played in consecutive games this season.
Memphis center Marc Gasol comparing Wednesday's win over the Thunder to a meal: “Soup and salad. We definitely got the soup and salad tonight. Now I am going to get my entrée and a little glass of wine.”