Durant averaged a career-high 4.3 assists this season, one per game more than last year. He notched all of his three career triple-doubles this season and had 25 games of at least six assists, up from 12 a year ago. The Thunder was 18-7 in those games.
In a candid moment inside a cramped San Francisco gym last week, Durant, for the first time, explained in detail exactly why he spent much of the season facilitating. Given the team's 28-3 record this season when five players scored in double digits, it was no surprise that Durant's logic centered on building up his teammates.
The better role players like Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins are, Durant said, the better the Thunder will be.
“I could easily take 25, 30 shots, but I think I'm getting Thabo six or seven shots, Perk five or six shots, Serge six or seven,” Durant said. “So I'm kind of mixing up my shots and getting it to my teammates and their confidence is growing and growing with that. Because I know that in the playoffs, if we want to get to where we want to get to you'll need everybody to contribute. So it's a good place to start.”
Hours later, Durant then went out and finished one assist shy of recording a triple-double in the Thunder's win at Golden State. He did it while taking just 16 shots and being fully aware of the criticism that has come with such few attempts.
“They don't know the game of basketball, I don't think,” Durant said of his critics. “It is what it is. I'm going to continue to play my game. I think if you look at it, I've gotten better over every category since last season. So I don't know what else people can say. I've heard that I'm not aggressive enough. I need to shoot more. I need to take shots from Russell. I don't really get that. But I'm going to play my game. I'm not going to let the outside people dictate what I do.”
That's the only guarantee Durant will give.
“We're going to need everybody to contribute,” Durant said of the playoffs. “It's going to be nights when I have to score 30-plus for us to win. It's going to be nights when I have to take 10 shots for us to win, or get eight assists and 12 rebounds. I'm just trying to figure out ways to do it other than just scoring every game. And this year I think I've done a good job of it.”