The Thunder’s three-game losing streak and the loss of Kendrick Perkins has masked what might be an even bigger Thunder story. How are Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook acclimating to each other?
Westbrook returned a week ago after an eight-week absence, during which Durant played the best basketball of his life. Now we have three games to study whether Westbrook’s return has impeded Durant’s ascension.
The scoreboard results have been bad: 0-3, including a dispiriting defeat to Cleveland on Wednesday night.
But offensively, Westbrook has not impacted Durant’s numbers.
In the three games, Durant is averaging 32.7 points, 7.3 assists and 4.0 turnovers. He’s shooting 51.5 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from 3-point range and 75 percent from the foul line.
Coming out of the all-star break, Durant was averaging 31.4 points, 5.5 assists and 3.3 turnovers. He was shooting 51 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range and 88.2 percent from the foul line.
Durant has averaged 22.7 shots per game since Westbrook returned. He’s also averaged 9.3 foul shots and the 4.0 turnovers. That’s 31.3 possessions per game used by Durant.
Coming out of the all-star break, Durant was averaging 20.2 shots per game, 9.7 foul shots and the 3.3 turnovers. That’s 28.3 possessions per game used by Durant.
Isn’t that interesting? Durant’s opportunities have gone up since Westbrook’s return. Now, Westbrook isn’t playing a full allotment. He’s averaged playing 26:14 in the three games. That number will keep going up, which could impact Durant.
Since his return, Westbrook has yet to play without Durant on the court alongside. That means Durant has played 78:41 in three games with Westbrook, and during that time Durant has 57 usages (shots, plus pair of foul shots, plus turnovers). And Durant has played 47:19 in the three games without Westbrook, and during that time Durant has 37 usages.
So Durant is averaging a usage about every 80 seconds with Westbrook on the court. A shot, drawing shot fouls or a turnover. Without Westbrook, Durant is averaging a usage about every 77 seconds.
Pretty dang close. So far, Westbrook is not costing Durant any offensive opportunities.