Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant is not making any promises

Two days before the opening of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, Durant dodged the one question everyone is dying for him to answer. Will he finally start shooting more in this postseason?
by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 19, 2013

Kevin Durant wasn't in a promise-making mood Friday.

And the truth is, when it comes to his shot selection he may never again be.

Two days before opening the 2013 NBA Playoffs, Durant dodged the one question everyone is dying for him to answer.

Will he finally start shooting more in this postseason?

“I'm just going to go out there and have fun with the game,” Durant said. “Whatever the defense throws at me I'm going to try to go out there and play. If I need to make a pass, I'm going to make a pass. I know I'm going to be extra aggressive, whether it's the pass or whether it's to score. I just got to go out there and play my game.”

And with that, the mystery continues.

Even in a year in which he just missed leading the league in scoring for a fourth consecutive season, Durant seemed reluctant to do what he does best: be the coldblooded scorer fans knew and loved.

In his sixth season, Durant was hell-bent on expanding his game. Instead of more shots, he took less. Rather than apply pressure on defenses, he played possum.

The overall results were hard to argue. The Thunder finished in first place in the Western Conference, with its first 60-win season, while Durant enjoyed an efficient season of historic proportions.

But deferring wasn't always pretty.

As he attempted to become a better playmaker, Durant's passing left more to be desired. His propensity for sloppy passes and piling up turnovers suggested Durant — and the Thunder — would be best served reverting to what he does best.

Twenty one times this season Durant finished with five or more turnovers.

The Thunder went 12-9 in those games.

Now, after a season of trial and error, Durant's passing skills are about to be put to the test in the face of the win-or-go-home pressure of the playoffs. But this is the exact point in the year that Durant and the Thunder had in mind when putting up with those painful November nights, when he averaged 3.5 turnovers, and those maddening moments in March, when Durant's turnover rate skyrocketed to 4.2 per game.

All year, Durant and those responsible for his development knew his improvement wouldn't happen overnight. But the long term benefits far outweighed the short term ramifications.

With the blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Houston, someone had to step up and be the playmaker Harden used to be. Russell Westbrook certainly did his part, averaging 1.9 assists more this season than he did a year ago. Durant, meanwhile, accepted the challenge along with everything else he was developing as part of his progression.

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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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