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OKC Thunder roundtable: Assessing Kevin Durant's MVP season

by Berry Tramel and Darnell Mayberry and Anthony Slater Published: June 17, 2014

Tramel: What impresses you most about the New York City skyline? You could start 100 different places. I guess I would say his shooting percentage even with Russell Westbrook out. Durant was remarkably efficient this season, shooting 50.3 percent. For a guy who takes shots from all over the court, that’s remarkable.

What one thing would you like to see Durant do more or better next season?

Mayberry: To me, it’s the same area as Russell Westbrook. Defense. And it’s not close. I actually thought Durant made great strides this year as an on-ball defender. But his off-ball defense continued to be spotty, and I didn’t like that he almost never took it upon himself to step up and guard the other team’s hot hand. If Durant’s defense gets better, the Thunder can trot out more offensive-minded players without worrying about defensive slippage. But the reason offensively limited players like Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins have remained fixtures in the first string is because Durant and Westbrook still haven’t committed to dominating defensively every night like they do offensively. Defense is the key.

Slater: The book is out. The best way to contain KD is to throw a quicker, stronger, peskier guard on him and force him to try to play a power game. Make him hesitant on the dribble, bait him into awkward drives, hope to get him frustrated. Tony Allen and, at times, Chris Paul and Danny Green had success in the playoffs. Durant can’t allow that moving forward. He’s got to figure out better counters and has to punish smaller guys in the post. Some of that comes from added strength, some from these learning experiences. But it’s a clear hole in an offensive game that doesn’t have many.

Tramel: Offensive rebounding. Durant could be a ferocious offensive rebounder. He’s already an excellent defensive rebounder. But Durant averaged just 0.7 offensive rebounds per game. That ranked eighth on the Thunder, even though Durant played way more minutes than anyone else. Thabo Sefolosha had more offensive rebounds per game than did Durant.

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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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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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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