Monday night in a loss to San Antonio, Kevin Durant hit 7-of-13 shots on his way to 26 points. Russell Westbrook on the other hand put up 27 shots (including a ridiculous half-court shot trying to draw a foul), hit 11, and finished with an inefficient 25 points.
Tuesday that brought up the same old “why doesn’t Kevin Durant get more shots?” discussion. As noted by the Elias Sports Bureau, the Thunder are on pace to become the second team ever to have the scoring champion take the second most shots on his own team. Thank you Westbrook.
Durant said it’s not about the number of shots, it’s about making the right basketball play, via the Oklahoman.
“I can do whatever I want on the offensive end,” Durant said. “I can come down and take 30 shots. That’s not the right brand of basketball for me, to just come down and shoot. It’s not because of the defense limiting me to 13 shots. I could have shot more than that, but I was trying to make the right basketball play.”
We should add in Durant’s defense here he got to the free throw line 11 times, he made plays that didn’t count as shot attempts.
Sometimes as fans we have a sense that our stars must play a certain way — Jordan took over games, Kobe Bryant willingly takes over games, why won’t Kevin Durant? (Remember LeBron James used to hear the same thing.) But Durant is not Kobe nor does he want to be.
Durant is right that for the Thunder to take the next step it can’t be about him jacking up more shots, his buckets need to come out of the flow of the offense. Teams are going to work to not let the best pure scorer in the game get easy looks and the Thunder as a team have to make them pay with ball movement and other guys scoring.
There needs to be a balance. Westbrook needs to pick his spots better on when to shoot and when to set up Durant and others, and frankly he has been better this year. He wasn’t against the Spurs.
The bottom line is Durant and Westbrook remain one of the best combinations in the NBA, two guys under age 25 who led their team to the NBA finals. They are a team on the cusp of a title, a true contender. The loss Monday was one March game. Don’t go overboard with your reactions in OKC. Especially to the Spurs game, which was the Thunder’s fifth game in seven days. Move on.