It’s not that Kevin Durant wants to shoot more with Russell Westbrook out, it’s that he doesn’t have much of a choice if the Thunder want to score a lot of points (and they do, that remains kind of an important thing in basketball).
In the nine games since Westbrook went out with another knee injury Durant is scoring 34.2 points a game (up from 29.6 on the season), is taking 22.1 shots a game (19.2), 6.9 from three (5.1), and has a true shooting percentage of 62.2 percent (62.7).
He’s taking on more of the offense — his usage percentage is 34.2 percent in the last nine, up from 31.1 for the season — as we all expected he would.
But that’s not how Durant wants it to be — he wants to be more of a facilitator. That’s what he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.
“I’m not doing enough to help them,” Durant said of his teammates. “I’m shooting too much. I’m shooting too many 3s. I’m not helping them out at all. So it’s not on them.”
“The first few games without Russell, we did a great job moving the ball,” Durant said. “I think now I’m just flat out shooting too much. I have to find a way to get my teammates easier shots. I’ve been thinking these last few games in order for us to get it going I have to do it all offensively. But, nah, we have to do it together. It’s a great learning experience for me. It’s the first time I’ve really been in that type of position. But I just have to get everybody involved. I may have to pass up a few to find a better shot.”
The problem to me isn’t all Durant — passing the ball is only half of an assist, the other half is the guy knocking down the shot.
In the nine games without Westbrook Jeremy Lamb is shooting 41.8 percent, Kendrick Perkins 40.5 percent, Reggie Jackson 40.4 percent, Thabo Sefolosha 38.7 percent and Derek Fisher 37 percent.
We saw this before with Kobe Bryant — when he had teammates not hitting shots he took on more of the offense because he knew he would make them. The difference is Kobe has no guilt over that, Durant does.
He will be on the court Tuesday despite a sore wrist, and expect him to try to be more of a facilitator. We’ll see if his teammates are up to that challenge.