Durant defends his shot volume and why it’s not higher

18 Comments

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.

Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma trolling now in ad for Wish shopping app

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Lakers asked Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma to back off on their social media trolling battle.

However, they made an exception for this new Wish.com app ad (Wish is the Lakers’ jersey ad sponsor).

Well played guys.

Miami bringing Briante Weber into camp with chance to make roster

Getty Images
Leave a comment

For three seasons, Briante Weber has bounced around the fringes of the NBA. The defensive-minded point guard has played in short stints (often 10-day contracts) for the Grizzlies, Heat, Warriors, Hornets, and last season he got in 13 games for the Rockets (plus five in Memphis). He’s spent most of his career in the G-League, working for his chance to get in the door.

Miami is bringing him into training camp, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

This is apparently camp invite.

There is roster space in Miami if Webber blows them away. Miami has 12 fully guaranteed roster spots and, with Webber, two partially-guaranteed deals (Malik Newman, who was undrafted out of Kansas, is the other).

The problem for Webber is Miami is deep at the point guard spot: Goran Dragic will start, and if Tyler Johnson is healthy (as expected) he will get a lot of minutes behind him, and then there is Newman. The Heat also have in the guard rotation Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, and possibly Dwyane Wade if he returns (all of those guys are more two guards).

That’s a lot of guys for Webber to beat out and find a spot. On the other hand, his defensive style is something different from what the Heat have on the roster.

Webber is a longshot, but he’s at least going to camp.

Russell Westbrook “very, very excited” Paul George re-signed with Thunder

Getty Images
3 Comments

What did you expect him to say?

Rather than a potential rebuild — or another “Russell Westbrook vs. The World” season — the Oklahoma City Thunder were one of the big winners of the off-season when Paul George agreed to re-sign with the team. They also moved on from Carmelo Anthony, will get Andre Roberson back from injury, and added Dennis Schroder to give them a shot creator off the bench.

Needless to say, Westbrook is a happy man. We could kind of tell that from the party he threw the night George agreed to re-sign, but he said it directly in an ESPN interview while in China on his Jordan Brand Tour.

“I’m very, very excited. Paul has been an unbelievable teammate, obviously a great friend. I’m very, very excited that he is back and we’re ready to make some noise. We are just going to take it one day at a time. I think our team has a lot of great, young talent. We have one goal now and that is winning a championship.”

While it’s hard to envision the Thunder reaching that goal (as constructed), the Thunder could well be the three or four seed in the West and have home court in the first round of the playoffs. While the margin for error in the West will be minuscule (with 12 teams having a shot at the eight playoff spots), with the Thunder’s strong top-10 defense and two stars who can take over games nightly, they should be one of the more consistent regular season teams in the West.

Either way, the Thunder are a lot more interesting with George than without. It’s going to be a good season for the Thunder.

PBT Extra: Carmelo Anthony officially a Houston Rocket now — this can work

7 Comments

Did the Houston Rockets get better this summer? The conventional wisdom is no, they will miss the switchable defense and versatility of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute against the NBA’s other elite teams.

But with Carmelo Anthony officially signing with the Rockets on Monday, don’t expect a big step back, something I cover in this latest PBT Extra.

The Rockets had the second-best offense in the NBA last season (almost tied with the Warriors) and ‘Melo can enhance that — he can still punish switches in the post, he has a catch-and-shoot game, and while he may not be as efficient as he once was, the man can get buckets. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, expect Mike D’Antoni to find him minutes while Chris Paul and James Harden rest where he can be an offensive focal point.

This all could work out in Houston.