Monday, September 17, 2007

Not So Fast, Kevin Durant Lovers


After Greg Oden's tragic season-ending injury, many have come of the opinion that Durant was, in fact, the better pick for now, and have been eager to jump onto the Durant Bandwagon in full force. I, however, am not sold, and I'll tell you why.

I am not here to discredit Kevin Durant's credentials. He was absolutely sublime for Texas all season long, and put up the kind of single-game numbers you just don't see from a college player. As a freshman, he wasn't just the best player in the country, he was clearly the best player in the country. And watching KD, it's easy to see why people predict greatness for him: He has one of the purest shooting strokes I've ever seen, a huge collection of offensive moves from the post and the perimeter, and a beautiful fluidity to everything he does. Oh, and he's 6-10. We really never have seen a player like him before; he's some kind of bizarre mixture of Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kobe Bryant, and his uniqueness makes any sort of prediction about him pure speculation.

But here's my speculation: Durant will disappoint.

Durant is primarily an offensive player, so I'll state my qualms about his offensive game first. As I said, Durant has a beautiful jump shot, and is a pure shooter, so he can get squared up from any angle and get his shot off at any time. However, being a great shooter does not make a franchise NBA scorer.

The average NBA possession yields just over half a point-the average "true shooting"% for the league last year was around 55%. (If you don't know what this stuff means, take 10 minutes out of your day and read Hollinger. Trust me, it'll be worth it.) Good jump shooters, like Kobe Bryant, Gilbert Arenas, and Ray Allen, shoot an eFG% of anywhere from 45-49% on jumpers, under the league average for efficiency. Today's game is about going to the rim, where baskets are much easier to come by (good scorers shoot anywhere from 65-70% on "inside" shots), and fouls can be drawn for easy points. The other way to come by efficient scoring is by getting a sharpshooter behind the 3-point line, where the extra value of the shot makes up for its difficulty. (A 40% 3-point shooter is really shooting 60%, which is good.)

Mid-range shots are an inefficient way to score, especially for a player who will never get a good look at one; while the mid-range jumper is sometimes necessary to "keep the defense honest" and consequently free up space to get to the rim, a contested midrange jumper is almost universally an inefficient shot. Durant's 3-point shooting ability would normally be a huge asset to his team, but with how defenses will be keying in on him next year, the shot is just too tough to hit consistently under coverage. (His .236 3-point% in the summer league seemed to reflect this.)

Make no mistake: the key skill for a franchise scorer in this league is the ability to get to the rim and get shots inside. Even superstars who are thought of primarily as jump shooters get to the rim regularly. (Kobe Bryant and Gilbert Arenas were 1st and 2nd in the league in Free Throw Attempts last year.)

Do I think Kevin Durant will consistently be able to get to the rim at the NBA level, and hence become the franchise scorer he's projected to be? No. He doesn't cause mismatches. While that may seem like an odd thing to say about a 6-10 shooting guard, it's true. After the infamous combine, basketball's answer to Vince Young's Wonderlic test, basketball purists quickly came up with a consensus: he's a basketball player, not a track star. If you think these measurements can tell you what kind of player he'll be, you're an idiot. Tony Allen dominated these tests, for the love of god. I won't take cheap shots at that kind of thinking by pointing out that it led to us taking Luke Jackson over Andris Biedrins, Josh Smith (Jay Bilas: "he will be the bust of the draft."), J.R. Smith, Sebastian Telfair, and Jameer Nelson; that would be wrong. Instead, I'll point out how all the best scorers in the NBA are either bigger or faster than anyone trying to guard them, or, in LeBron James' case, both. Great players cause mismatches; Kevin Durant is on the receiving end of one. He's either a slow small forward, molasses-like shooting guard, or weak power forward; Ron Artest could get in his grill all day from the perimeter and comfortably keep him out of the paint, as could Lamar Odom or even Tayshaun Prince. He's not going to overpower anybody.

Going through his YouTube highlights one more time, not only did the amount of jump shots stand out (jumpers on YouTube?), but the finesse of his game. One move that Durant seems to have in his bag is to drive hard one way, then lose his man with a counter-spin the other way and hit the resulting 7-footer. It's a gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous move, but it has disturbing implications; he invented that move because he was getting beaten to the spot on his drives by white guys from Gonzaga, who may or may not have thought that he was a dragon. He did dominate in college, but he did so not through his sheer ability, but with his ability to bend the game so that his abilities would be highlighted. Will that ability be enough at the NBA level? I do not think so. In the Summer League, his forays to the basket were often stopped cold by fellow rookies and D-leaguers; he did start getting to the line near the end of the summer league, but Adam Morrison averaged over 10 free throws per game during his summer league, and while I think the Morrison/Durant comparison has been played out, that does seem pertinent. If Kevin Durant can find a way to get to the league in the NBA, I'm wrong about him. But he seems to willing to settle for his jumper, as well as just not fast enough.

So that's why I don't think that Kevin Durant will shoot higher than 40% this year, which only scratches the surface of why I don't think he'll become a franchise player. When playing the "compare the best players in the NBA" game, typically around MVP time, one of the most important things for me is "how good is he on his worst night?" In other words, when he can't buy a jumper to save his life or find easy lanes to the bucket, how does he help his team to victory? Tim Duncan is the best at this test; he gives you 10 rebounds, great defense, draws a double-team, shares the ball, gets scrappy buckets, and leads his team. LeBron will get 5 or 6 boards, get a steal or two, get some points on fast breaks, draw a double-team, and keep his teammates involved. Dwayne Wade will get to the line 15 times. Tracy McGrady will run the offense.

The absolute worst elite player at this test is Dirk Nowitzki, the player who represents the best-case scenario for Mr. Durant. Like Durant, Dirk is an absolute liability defensively because of his lack of speed and muscle, and like Durant, Dirk's offense rarely gets other players going, because much of it is off a jump shot rather than a coverage-drawing post-up or drive to the hole. Dirk has managed to make himself a good rebounder, which Durant has not proven himself able to do at the NBA level. (He could rebound in college, but not in the summer league, and now he's been put at shooting guard.) Unlike Wade or Arenas, Durant and Dirk aren't fast enough to crash into defenders for free throws or strong enough to try to get an easy look in the post when their shot isn't going; their games are entirely dependent on creating and maintaining a groove, and if they're forced out of that groove, like Dirk was against Golden State, they're giving you nothing. When Durant's shot isn't falling, he's going to have himself a very, very bad night.

And as for the USA scrimmage, which he played fantastically in, remember that that style of play is perfectly styled to Durant's strengths: there is almost no scoring off drives, much more spot-up shooting, a shorter three-point line, and a greater emphasis on fundamental play.

So that's my bold prediction: I still don't think I have Kevin Durant figured out, because he is so unique, but that's my best attempt. Feel free to disagree, but for now I'm ready to let Mr. Durant settle this one on the court.

78 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree completely, you hit the point exactly right there, I am a fan of his but people need to get off his balls and let him prove to us that he is worth the pick, he is a fragile guy to go as far as a complete player, like those all-stars

Derz said...

You make some good points. However, I think you are reading too much into his Summer League performances. The cat had not played much ball for a few months before that happened. He will be much sharper when the real season starts, and dare I say, quicker. With all that said, I thought his Summer League performances were actually promising. He had some nice back to the basket buckets and was pretty close to top 10 of the league...not bad for a raw teenager without much recent match practice. He will indeed have to put on a bit of upper body strength but what you don't understand about this guy is that he is highly motivated and wants to win...psychologically he is in the top bracket and that will really help him work on his game and become the best he can be. And in this case, that best is scary.

CaptainAmerica said...

With few exceptions, the full NBA potential of any new player is not realized until his third for fourth year in the league. Therefore, it is not so much what got you to the league as the adjustments required to keep you there and then to excel.

SJH said...

Dude- He hasn't played in the "NBA" yet. Give the dude a chance. You're making all the Jay Bilas type judgements that you frown on here - i.e. judging a guys pro potential on a handful of games.

Bottom line - He was the best player in college at the age of 18 with one of the worst coaches in college hoops. Call me optimistic, but somehow I think his pro coaches are going to make little suggestions like "post up" and "take it to the rack".

Howard U said...

I hate you. I'm a life-long Sonics fan, and you're making an awful lot of sense...
I agree with you in that he may be most similar to Nowitzki. As of right now, he doesn't look like he will be nearly the rebounder that Nowitzki is, which further hurts his case. However, I'd argue he's at least a half step quicker, and willing to take the foul, as he showed in summer league.

Also, he's still 18 (I think), so I'm hoping his body will develop, and he will gain some strength. A concern here is that he has very narrow shoulders, so I can't exactly imagine him getting LeBron-big...

I think he shows the potential to be a truly great second banana kind of player, similar in many ways to the player he replaced, Rashard Lewis. We will have to see how he fares this year as a rookie in the role of main scoring option.

James said...

I think that you selling Durant short because of his current technical flaws and not giving him enough credit for his obvious basketball acumen at such a young age. People forget how long it took for players like Kobe, Dirk and Arenas to become the offensive force's which they are today. At the same age, Durant is light years ahead of those guys. Your points would be valid if Durant never improved his game but with P.J. as his coach he will get 'taught' quite a bit about the nuances of the game as well as the fact that in three seasons he will be 15-20 lbs heavier with muscle, faster, stronger and better adjusted to the league. People always seem to forget that if a player dominated his peers in college, why is it a stretch to think that sooner or later, when those same peers are his main competition in the pros, he won't dominate them again. I firmly believe that Durant will pan out to be the next great thing in the NBA along with O.J. Mayo

stopmikelupica said...

I agree with most of your post. To the commenters: I don't think he's making his predictions based on "a few games" - he's basing it on physical skills, what he saw in college, and everything since then. In other words, he's basing it on the same material you guys are basing your "Durant is the next Kobe/KG/TMac" predictions on.

I agree with you, at least for the short term. In the long term, say 3-5 years, Durant might develop strength enough (or speed even) to post and/or drive. But if he doesn't, then I agree that I don't see him become much more than a wannabe Dirk Nowitzki.

Excellent post.

the_capital_t said...

You make a pretty sound argument, but it feels like you're doing it simply for the sake of argument and that you don't necessarily want your prediction to come true.

Here's one excerpt from your post that really stood out to me and stands at the heart of all the predictions about Durant's potential for basketball immortality:

"After the infamous combine, basketball's answer to Vince Young's Wonderlic test, basketball purists quickly came up with a consensus: he's a basketball player, not a track star."

You go on to compare Durant to Nowitzki for his presumed inability to help his team win when he's having a bad shooting night. Which makes me think you missed Texas' first game of last year's Big 12 Tournament v. Baylor.

The Bears buried the Longhorns early and Durant's shot looked as miserable as anyone had ever seen it. With about 4 minutes to go in the first half and his team down by 20, he downshifted his role on the set offense and just started hanging around the rim. He made a couple hustle plays, scored a garbage basket or two and got his rhythm while infusing his teammates with some much needed energy and hope.

To start the second half, Texas put him at the head of a full court press and he was so long and active that he really screwed up Baylor's ability to advance the ball. Meanwhile, his stroke returned and he started killing the Bears from anywhere he wanted to. Durant finished with 29 pts (11-13 free throws), 13 rebs, 3 blks, 4 stls. Final score: Texas 74, Baylor 69.

The lesson: the kid isn't just a player, he's a competitor. In the tradition of Larry Bird and Kevin Garnett, there are some elements of his physicality that could be perceived as awkward or even disadvantageous. But his heart and basketball IQ are off the charts.

He will surely struggle at times during his first couple of years. But I think it'd be foolish to anticipate an average career or worse for him. He's too young to give the Hollinger numbers the credibility they deserve. And he's shown too much promise to not tag him with legitimate franchise player potential.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't disagree with you more. Durant is going to be the worst matchup in the league. He can post up or shoot over taller players, and he will blow by bigger players when they have to guard him at the 3 point line. He is going to be a nightmare to try to match up with.

The crack about white guys from Gonzaga couldn't be further off the mark -- what you ignore is the difference between college and pro defenses. In the NBA, you can't zone like you can in college. Durant was practically going 1-on-5 every time down the floor.

And finally, when you say that the only thing he can do is score, really discounts his overall floor game. The dude averaged 11 boards, 2 blocks, and 2 steals a game. He's an inside presence despite only weighing 42 pounds. He's going to be an excellent weak side defender and he's also going to get steals by jumping the passing lanes.

If you want to criticize him, feel free to comment about his passing ability. To me, that's thing he needs to work on most. He's not a natural great passer, but really that's the only fault I can find in his game right now.

Barring injury, I will be stunned if he isn't a hall of famer by the time he's done.

Steve said...

I agree. You said it all. I have nothing to add. I'm not used to that. Good job.

Anonymous said...

Two word to refute why Durant won't be a star with his physique: Chris Bosh. If Bosh can be a star PF in the NBA, so can Durant. Plus Durant is light years more advanced offensively than Bosh was when he entered the league.

Jake said...

I noticed a lot of what you saw. His spin move off the drive was fantastic in college and even in the summer league, but he'll just get swatted into the fifth row or get called for a charge if he thinks that will fly in the NBA.

Dirk is a good comparison, but I think you underestimate Dirk's unbelievable consistency. You applaud efficiency and take jump shooters to task for not being efficient, but Dirk has been one of the most efficient offensive forces in the NBA for years now. Also, his defense is still below average, but he is clearly an excellent defensive rebounder, which certainly makes him more than one dimensional.

ken said...

so, is mcgrady faster or stronger than his opponent? Ray Allen? Dwyane Wade? Jamal Crawford? Joe Johnson? Gilbert Arenas? Ben Gordon? Mike Miller? There are high-scoring 2/3s all over the league that don't fit your stronger/faster test.

The Durant/Morrison comparison is only tempting until you realize that Durant is a full two years younger than Morrison. Compare Morrison's freshman year to Durant's freshman year and KD comes off looking pretty good.

Eric said...

I'm curious how the midrange jumpshot is the most inefficient shot in the NBA and yet somehow this German fella who shoots them all the time wins the MVP.
The Bulls also did a pretty good job last season basing their entire offense on jumpshots.

Last time I checked, Durant was infinitely more athletic than Dirk. Sure he'll find a hard time getting to the basket or posting up on the half court set at first, but his jumpshooting and transition should give him near 20ppg for the meanwhile. He'll have trouble dealing with Artest? Who doesn't?
KD will be a terrible defender and rebounder next year and will take a good two or three years to get strong enough so that he can effectively do those things or drive and finish in traffic, but if you have any doubt this will happen just take a look at how T-Mac, Dirk and KG were when they came in.

bryan said...

Dude, the other thing to keep in mind is that when he played for the US Olympic team not only did he impress the other pros he was that close to being the 12th man of THAT team. If the worst case is that he develops Garnett's strength and post play how can that prevent him from being a great NBA scorer. Larry Bird was not the fleetest of foot, but could punish you in a wide variety of ways not just shooting, the fact that Durant has already developed so many moves at such a young age means he has so many scoring options and will indeed be an excellent NBA scorer. Don't see him short!

Anonymous said...

Never underestimate a cold-blooded killer. Larry Bird was one. Michael Jordan was one. And Kevin Durant looks like one also.

Also, don't compare the senior year of Adam Morrison with the one year of Kevin Durant. There is a key difference between the two times: under-19 rule. The competition is just so much better and tougher now in college than it was back then.

Drake said...

Never underestimate a cold-blooded killer. Larry Bird was one. Michael Jordan was one. And Kevin Durant looks like one also.

Also, don't compare the senior year of Adam Morrison with the one year of Kevin Durant. There is a key difference between the two times: under-19 rule. The competition is just so much better and tougher now in college than it was back then.

Anonymous said...

One key factor you don't really touch on that would refute your idea that Durant will have difficulty getting off his shot, is Durant is a 6-10 SF. Like said above, he will create mismatch nightmares at the SF. He will be able to shoot over most anyone who tries to guard him. He also has the ability to post. Sure, for the first few years some defenders will be able to push if off the block some, but he can take guys like Artest away from the bucket and just shoot over the top of them.

Anonymous said...

You must have been high when you wrote this article. According to Hollinger's numbers Durant is predicted to be the most successful player to come into the NBA ever!!! Nobody has tested off the charts more than this guy, but because of a workout he didn't prepare for there are countless unsubstantiated bias. Did you watch him score 22 points in less minutes against the best players in the world. That's what happens with Mozart like ability it can't function in a summer league, but flourishes around the best in the world. Durant's should be compared to Kobe because they both possess what is most crucial to succeed in basketball passion, discipline, and skill. Ultimately, your a fucking idiot, its like betting against Tiger, too bad this will fade and you won't have to be accountable to your fucking ignorant and useless opinion.

Brad said...

I saw Durrant in the summer league game against the Jazz and his rookie team mate Jeff Green was much more impressive. They kept funneling the ball to Durrant, and he took a ton of shots. Now that could be a bad night, but I wasn't impressed. I hope he plays well for the sonics, and gets stronger so he can mismatch like you want him to. Learning defense can always help :)

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http://pickupbasketball.net/2007/09/18/10-signs-that-you-are-a-basketball-addict.aspx

Bobby Jones 2.0 said...

The Morrison comparison is not apt. Durant averaged twice the rebounds in his freshman year than Morrison did in ANY year (11 versus 5.5 is a big difference), almost twice the steals and 1.5 more blocks per game than Morrison. Morrison didn't fill up the stat sheet in college and doesn't in the pros. That's not a surprise. Durant did fill up the stat sheet in college, and I would guess that doing so in college is a good predictor of doing so in the NBA.

Nathan said...

So Durant's "best-case" is last year's league MVP? And that's supposed to be a "bust"? Nice.

Anonymous said...

i agree with durants lack of ability to create mismatches.. he was shut down by renaldo balkman.. if you are not a knicks fan.. you probably dont even know who renaldo balkman is.. so yea.. durant is that bad.. however.. he will be a franchise player on seattle.. cuz right now they have no one else to fill the spot

Anonymous said...

Fellas lets get this straight, he can get to the the basket because he has a very good handle and decent speed, he can change direction and shoot over opposing defenses. He is 18 he will gain strength and speed, along with his handle make him a lethal combination. Hence I like the comparison to Tracy McGrady even more. Dirk cannot create a move to save his damn life in the playoffs or championships, Bruce Bowen in front of him. Lets just say he will be very good for all the reasons he was good in college, he can rebound, its just when you have an entire offensive set revolving around its hard. Good points, but do not compare him to Dirk.

mistaghost601 said...

how did this guy ger a jop with espn. your an idiot.how strong he is or his speed has nothing 2 do with how he Plays The Game. jordan was 2 skinny barkley 2 short stockton....well he was white, short slow couldnt jump so what. bird had bricks in his converse, bosh, t. prince are insanly thin. iversons a midget at the 2. kg is still weaker then his match up everynight. i can make cases all day long on size, it dosent matter, unless your manute bol gaurding shaq. hell if spud webb can win a dunk contest, when they acttually mattered durant can play on a high all star type level in the nba. and 2 say at worst hes gonna be more like dirk, i dont think thats a bad comparison, didnt dirk just win mvp? durant=allstars playoffs hall of famer and if the sonics can keep a good team around him maybe a ring or 2?

Anonymous said...

John Hollinger came up with a stat this year-- more like a system. It was a way to predict NBA success without putting all the emphasis on scoring and rebounding. It was about 93% accurate, and Durant has the highest number in 10 years. I have faith.

Bobby McObvious said...

I would agree to an extent that Durant will have a rougher go of things in the league than many anticipate. Brandon Rush proved last year that if you play good ball-denial defense on Durant, you can take him out of the game completely. I would go so far as to make this prediction: In four games against the Spurs and Bruce Bowen this year, Durant will shoot worse than 30 percent and average less than 15 points per game.

you crazy said...

You make some good points about his lack of strength and speed. But I disagree with you that that is the sole reason why nba stars are better than everybody else. Durant shares the most important trait superstars have, smarts and drive. You've accepted that he is smarter than everybody else and eternally gifted. I'll take that over an athletic freak like tyrus thomas.

I agree with the previous dude, barkley was too short, nash too slow, prince too skinny. all of them smart.

Anonymous said...

This proves, yet again, that the world is better off having David Hasslehoff.

1UPZ said...

Won't be surprised if he does struggle in the first season or 2. No doubt the kid has the tools, but as the article pointed out, the NBA has players literally drafted and specialized on being defenders. Durant has the skills and talent, but there are players in the league right now who have long reach, much quicker and just much more physically built.

Of course I am talking about Durant in his first season, he will enter the league a kid with skinny arms, skinny legs and will probably end the season with plenty of bruises and sore body.

But I think eventually, he will develop his physical size, sure he has narrow shoulders, he will never be a Lebron or Amare or Dwight size type player, but all he needs is about 15-20 pounds of lean muscles on the right spots and just be mentally prepared to get banged up... I think he will be fine.

Anonymous said...

KG is skinny , but is one of the best rebounders in the league its all about mentality

K2 said...

Interesting post. Time will tell if you're right.

One small correction: if true shooting is around 55%, teams average just over one point (not half a point) per possession.

Anonymous said...

you're an idiot. plain an simple. an idiot. a moron. a dunce. Durant is basketball Mozart. He is not Bird, Jordan, or Magic, he is Kevin Durant. The idiots that base an opinion on summer league... I don't even have words to for you. Remember 2 years ago when Steven Hunter was the MVP of summer league? No? Neither does Steven Hunter. Summer league means nothing. It means less than nothing. Durant got progressively better this summer, culminated with an excellent performance in the blue/white Team USA scrimmage. He will be one of the best in the world in a very short time. And, like somebody said before me, you won't have to answer for having such an idiotic opinion. Durant is the truth. I hope he wins 3 titles in his career and shuts critics like you up completely.

Tom said...

Oh this is a great basketball post! You're absolutely right in that Durant is going to have to add quickness, strength, or both to his game if he wants to dominant every night. Any player that settles for lots of jumpers can almost never be completely consistent - you have to get to the rim to be a consistent scorer. To me, Ben Gordon is a great example and it has nothing to do with his speed/strength - just that he settles for so many outside jumpers. He'll drop 30 in a quarter 1 game and go 3-18 the next. I think you sum up everything best when you ask what they will contribute when their jumper is not falling. Without a doubt, the guys in the league that can still make huge positive impacts when their jump shot is not falling are: LeBron, Wade, Duncan, Kidd, Nash. On the other end of the spectrum - guys like Ray Allen, Ben Gordon, Dirk, Bibby etc can be totally useless on some nights when their jumpers wont fall.

GREAT BBALL Knowledge.

Mike the T said...

I seem to remember telling my friends similar things about Carmelo Anthony several years ago. Carmelo was 6'8" 220 lbs and didn't seem to demonstrate the quickness or athleticism that would translate from his one year in college to the pros. Yet Carmelo was special in his first year and while he may not be efficient, I don't think anyone would consider him a bust. I expect Durant's rookie season to be very similar to Carmelo Anthony's.

j. leo said...

I'd say the worst case scenario for him, easily compared because of Seattle, is Rashard Lewis.
So if your worst case scenario is a guy who averages 24 a night, that's not bad. Whether or not he becomes a franchise player is another question...

However, I think people are focusing too much on his strength or lack thereof. In the mid 90's, Knicks-Heat brawl era, he might be tossed around. But the rules have changed in the past few years to help perimeter players. With proper training, I think he'll be fine.

Kyle said...

KD will create a lot of mismatches, without question. That part of the article just doesn't make sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Many good points made in here, but one thing that I think should be empahsized more - handles. To me this is what seperates great players from good. Magic, Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, T-Mac, even Pipen, all had great handls and could get to where they wanted to go on the floor. This to me is where Rashard was limited, Ray to an extent. Big men and big guards who have handles are a rare breed. If Durrant and Jeff Green have 'true' handles, they can be special.

Leon said...

Mid-range jumper is overrated? That's what happens when someone tries too much to measure talent by statistical data. What about Rip Hamilton, who has made a career off of the mid-range jumper. Or Rashard Lewis, who seems to be very similar to Durant in every way, except that Durant is a better rebounder. It's amazing how many people fail to realize just how great a rebounder he is. Oh, and don't forget the Olympic tryouts, where he went from an impossibility to someone who had to be seriously considered. Durant will be just fine, he is definitely a can't-miss talent, and solely relying on statistical data has caused many a GM a job. Just remember that. I can't believe the amount of people who agreed with you. You do realize he had one of the GREATEST seasons in recen college history. AS A FRESHMAN!

furious said...

this post is almost absurd. durant had one of the best college seasons ever, and it is simply written off as "he couldn't get by players at gonzaga?" Yet the 4 or 5 summer league games are supreme examples of his real talent? then of course, the summer scrimmage is completely written off as, it plays to his strengths? This is hilarious. I am not saying KD is the next MJ, but at the age of 18 the only player who was even comparable to him at such an age was lebron james. Every single comment you made about KD could have been made about Larry Bird in 1979 as well. Good thing blogging wasn't around back then.

spike said...

To whoever said that Brandon Rush shut down KD, when exactly did that happen? He famously lit up Kansas at Kansas during the regular season, then he dropped 37 on Kansas during the Big 12 Championship, when he was single-handedly carrying his team for the 3rd game in 3 days.

This whole post is a load of B.S. As others have pointed out: KD is 18 and is cold-blooded. Dirk is neither of these.

But yeah, if all Seattle gets is a quicker, mentally tougher Dirk with better ball handling ability, I'm sure they'll be sorry!

Krolik1157 said...

Wow. It's a weird feeling to come back from class and see that 41 people have left a comment on your blog, many of them angry.

First of all, of course Kevin Durant could be a great, great player. Essentially every GM in the NBA agreed that he's one of the best prospects in the NBA in recent years, and they do know a lot about basketball-I personally think that the conventional wisdom could be wrong on this one. If I was 100% positive of that, I'd have an actual job.

Second, I don't think Kevin Durant is a bad player. In fact, I think he's a very good player. I just don't think he can be a franchise scorer, much less a franchise player. He could be the best 2nd option in the league with his ability to hit open shots and find seams in defenses that aren't ready for him, which is what I believe he showed in the blue-white game: However, I don't think he's enough of an athlete to consistently get through a defense that is keying in on him.

Third, as for the mid-range jumper comment, go onto NBA.com, go to "Hotzones," and look up the top scorers in the league. ALL of them shoot less than 50% from midrange. Every single one.

Fourth, Dirk is a unique player. He's not athletic, he's not pretty, and he doesn't shoot all that many 3s, but somehow he manages to be an extremely efficient scorer from the mid-to-high post. I don't believe that we're going to see another Dirk anytime soon: big men who are tall, european, athletic and shoot 3s are not Dirk-like, and neither is Durant.

And while I realize Durant was a very good rebounder in college, I think he'll be permanently on the perimeter in the pros, especially in his first year, so I think it's fair to expect his rebounds to go way, way down, like they did in the summer league.

And I was aware of John Hollinger's statistical projection for Durant being off-the-charts. I'm a huge Hollinger fan, and certainly consider that to be a plus, but ultimately it comes down to this: When talking about Kevin Durant, our sample size is 1.

He's so unique in so many ways that he really doesn't fit into any categories, statistical or otherwise, which is another reason why any prediction about Durant is pure speculation. The best comparison I've been able to come up with for Durant is Toni Kukoc with a killer instinct, which people who followed the Bulls know would have been deadly. There are also some parallels between him and Pistol Pete, whose biography I finished yesterday.

Finally, don't call me a "fucking idiot" on my blog or anywhere else. You don't know me. It's fine if you disagree with my opinion, but don't call my knowledge of this game into question. Yes, I could be wrong. Please show me a sportswriter who has been right about every prediction he's ever made. After watching Durant for the last 2 years(and watch him I did-my next-door neighbors are Texas alums), I got the feeling he was being touted as too much of a sure thing, for all the reasons I spelled out in my post. I worked hard to make sure my points were valid and based in fact.

Are there fact-based points that would point to Durant being a huge success in the NBA? Absolutely, and I took care to acknowledge them. I can't prove that he'll be a failure here, just like nobody else can prove that he'll be good; in the end, it's up to Kevin Durant, and I'm eager to see what he does come opening night.

Anonymous said...

i doubt you watched him for the last two years or even knew who he was two years ago

Anonymous said...

You're not an idiot dude. Your points are at worst, interesting and they're pretty well supported. I'd say the people being dicks have too much time on their hands OR are suddenly insecure about their golden boy.

Anonymous said...

Completely and utterly wrong.



Durant already has a pro ready post up game. He already has a fantastic perimeter game. He already has a great midrange game. His driving isn't spectacular but it will be there because they are going to have to put 6-7 240lb guys on him to trouble him in the post. I think you are under-selling his athleticism also, he's a lot quicker than that and a great leaper. What he needs to work on is his balhandling.

Durant is going to be phenomenal.

Anonymous said...

you should proof read your posts

john said...

As someone who attended almost every one of KD's games in person this year, I have to say that you're reaching. You just have to see him in person to really appreciate how good he is. It's crazy to say he doesn't create mismatches and crazy to say Brandon Rush shut him down. This dude is a different breed of cat. He just figures it out. Quickly.

I do like the Toni Kukoc comparison. I made it myself this year. If you look at Toni before he came to the states, their games are a lot alike.

Sure he'll struggle. But look at what seasoned pros like Chauncy Billups said about him if you really want to know how he'll do in NBA.

Anonymous said...

i am amazed that you saw durant for two years and only saw a "good jump shooter."

Anonymous said...

"Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard."

jt said...

We don't know what Durant will eventually become, but I will agree that RIGHT NOW he does not possess the tools to be much more than a jump shooter in the NBA against any decent defender. I honestly see Kevin Durant eventually becoming (ironically enough) another Rashard Lewis...which is a very good player, but not someone who is going to create the offense for his team. If Durant gets a chance to play with a guy who can create the offense for his team, Durant will be very effective. That's not a knock on Durant at all...it's just he has yet to display that he can be the playmaker for his team...ala Magic, Bird, Jordan, Kobe, Shaq and even Garnett to certain extent...his court vision just isn't there yet. He can jack up a lot of shots, but I haven't seen him set the table for anyone but himself. Eventually teams will figure this out and just double team and force him to take bad shots because he's not going to make a solid pass. Unless he learns how to make other teams pay for doubling him, he will only be a very good player.

Anonymous said...

How many players have rated off the charts athletically but never did anything in the league? What separated Jordan from the rest? At that level, athleticism is just a small piece to a BIG puzzle.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. Mostly. I think Durant will be a bust. THIS year (as a Seattle fan, that makes me sigh).
One of the reason you listed as "not for a superstar" I think is going to be what will actually help the kid; his lack of athleticism. That means every good thing he has as basketball player comes from coordination and skills. It also means Durant will be able to bulk up as much as he can, without losing one of his primary weapon - speed -. He's only 19, who knows how strong will he be at 21/23? If he adds muscles and gets to play near the basket, with that skill level, he's going to be impressive...

Slobodan Chutzpah said...

I like contrarian views as much as the next guy, but I think you're being intellectually dishonest with your analysis.

As some commenters have pointed out, you seem to utilize and even straight out twist around the facts to suit your conclusions. Brandon Rush shutting him down when it never happened is just one example of this.

First you say he's a great pure shooter and a unique player; then you say the mid-range jumper is the most inefficient shot; then, when confronted with the fact that Dirk won an MVP with a mid-range game, you make an about-turn and tell us that there won't be another Dirk. This in spite of the fact that you had just said KD is a great, unique shooter who relies too much on his mid-range game - exactly as Dirk does.

Moreover, the fact that KD is MJ-level cold-blooded doesn't seem to impress you -- even though it, and not speed or athleticism, is the one trait that separates real superstars from mere mortals. This is also the reason he won't become another Rashard Lewis.

Make no mistake: he will figure NBA defenses out in no time, won't have much trouble getting to the rack (and he DOES have the skills and the mindset as well as sufficient quickness to do this) against slower defenders and shooting over smaller ones - just like guys such as Carmelo do it.

Your arguments are akin to predicting LeBron would be a bust - it just ain't happening, although it's of course nice to act the fearless rebel and say so.

Shannon said...

I posted this on a forum I visit, but I think alot of it applies here.

Did everyone forget that just a month after turning 18, Kevin played his first collegiate game, and had 20 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in a game against a weak "who are they?" type team. It was nice, but no one really took notice.

Then not even a month later he has 29 and 9 on Gonzaga. A couple games later, 28 and 13 against Arkansas. Next game, 26 and 8 against Tennessee. A few games later, Texas beats Colorado while Kevin drops 37 points and 16 rebounds - as a freshman. That's amazing, but what makes it even more crazy is that wasn't even his best game of the season.

The game right after that, he has 34 and 13 against Missouri. Next game? 28 and 13 against Oklahoma. Please keep in mind he's not long gone 18 years old. Right after that, he drops 28 and 13 against Oklahoma. Next game, Kevin drops 37 and 12, to go along with 4 blocks against a tough Oklahoma State team. The next game, he get's shut down against Villanova, probably his worst game of the season - he finishes with 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. He bounces right back against Nebraska and Baylor - giving them 26/15 and 34/9 respectively.

Then comes the big game - that huge performance against Texas Tech - were Kevin with 37 points, 18 defensive rebounds - which when added to his 5 offensive boards, results in a total of 23 rebounds - he also had 3 steals and a blocked shot in that game. I still remember alot from that game, and I'll be buying it from Pontel when I get some money so I can relive that crazy performance.

Right after that, he drops 32/9 (plus 5 blocks) and 28/15 (plus 3 blocks) on Kansas State and Texas A&M. When you see a heralded senior have games like this, you're amazed. When you see an 18 year old freshman doing this against strong teams, there's no words to describe it. Its the guy's first season of college ball, and he's doing this to teams? Imagine if he stayed another year? What would he do with one season under his belt?

Fast forward a few days, and Kevin drops 21/12 and 20/15 against Oklahoma State and Baylor. It's crazy to think that those performances are actually sub-par. Right after that, he rattles off three big time performances - 32/10, 30/16 and 32/9 (not to mention 5, 5 and 3 blocks in each game, respectively) - against Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Kansas.

Next two games come against Baylor and Oklahoma State. At this poit I just feel bad for them. They're good teams, but we're talking about Kevin Durant. Yes, that 18 year old freshman from Texas. He gives them 29/13 and 26/8 respectively. Ouch.

What game is up next? The big 12 championship game. It comes against a really touch team in Kansas which features some big time players - Julian Wright, Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins and Brandon Rush. Can this young freshman get it done on the big stage?

Yes he can. Texas barely lost the game - in ovetime, but Kevin did what he was supposed to do. Abuse Kansas.

He put 37 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocks on them. Texas may have lost the game, but if you watch that game you'll see that Kevin did everything he could to keep Texas in it. Let me remind you that Texas wasn't a really big time team. They had Kevin, James Augustine (really good looking point gaurd, but his role was to get Kevin the ball and that only) and a spot up shooter in AJ Abrams. The rest of the roster was essentially garbage guys like Damion James who would go in, play defence and get boards. Even though Texas had Durant, talent wise, Kansas was far ahead of the Longhorns. Yet the game goes to OT and Kevin has a huge game - that's just a testament to how good he really is.

First game of the NCAA Tournament, Kevin has 27/8 in a win over New Mexico State. He took a 13 shots in that game, got the rest at the line.

The second round matchup against USC is a game I wanted Texas to win so badly, I was pretty broken when they lost, knowing that was the last game Kevin Durant would play in a Longhorns uniform. That Daniel Hackett kid from USC done a great job on Kevin and was praised by many throughout and after the game. However, when you absolutely smother a guy defensively with some of the best defence I've seen at the college level and that guy still walks away with a 30 point, 9 rebound performance - you know that man you were gaurding is a once in a lifetime talent.

That's a run down of what Kevin did in his only season of college basketball. By the way - he turns 19 years old in 2 weeks.

Once in a lifetime talent. Ignore his summerleague perfomances, his body and his combine results. The kid can play like no other.

ojay said...

If Dirk can do it, so can the Durantulla! He may not be the quickest,nor the strongest; but his god given gifts & talent combined with his basketball IQ will make him an all timer!

Anon #30009 said...

You're a fucking idiot. Sorry you didn't get Durant in the draft. See you in 5 years to watch you eat pie.

Mas Pogi said...

Why did some of the elite of the NBA drafted college rank players all voted (almost all) for Durant to be named the Rookie of the Year for this coming season? These were the guys who actually went head to head in basketball combat with him. These were the guys who also played against Greg Oden prior to his season ending surgery. They must have seen something about this kid. Like all incoming Rookies, they will struggle, and struggle on different levels. Michael Jordan himself struggled during his rookie year. But man, everyone can see the potential of his "airness" with his tongue sticking out. Everyone could see the "killer instinct" and the "competetive nature." I see the same thing in Durant. He'll do things to try to win at all cost. Yes he will struggle as defenses would focus on him all season. But this kid is special. He'll find ways to adjust and adapt. When it's all said and done, Kevin Durant's name will be up there with the best of 'em. Ha!!

Krolik1157 said...

I never said that Brandon Rush shut Durant down. That was in the comments.

spike said...

Your SiteMeter is awesome. Behold the power of TrueHoop.

This is one of the deepest drafts this decade, which player should Seattle have taken #2?

Anonymous said...

I can't help but laughing at this post. Tell me, how often did Reggie Miller get to the line as a pure shooter? Was Kareem not one of the best players ever as a slow finesse-style seven footer?

Plus you contradict your own argument by saying that he won't be good because his combine scores weren't high and that you have to be bigger or faster to get to the rack in the NBA. Then you turn around and say that combine scores mean nothing.

Plus you use summer league as proof that he'll falter in the NBA. You forget that not only was he the best player in the country as a freshman. He was the best freshman ever and perhaps one of the best college players ever.

This is simply a biased post and I'll turn around and critique your favorite player mr B Davis for not being the fastest, strongest, or biggest player. He also probably lost you the Jazz series by being such a whiner and locker-room headcase. Just to make it personal.

jt said...

The comparisons to MJ are laughable at best. I've read it in SEVERAL places (including here) that Durant is the next MJ. Are you freakin kidding me? Have any of those guys watched MJ play...even as a kid out of college in the Olympics Jordan's game was far different than Durant's game. The closest I've seen to Jordan is Kobe. They (KD and MJ) are two totally different types of players. Durant is longer, but doesn't have the foot speed or ability to change directions with the ball in his hands like Jordan. Nor would Durant be able to stay in front of guys on the perimeter or hang in the air with total body control like Jordan.

Now if you want to say he is a fiery competitor like MJ...well maybe you're right...but so was Avery Johnson and Adam Morrison (in college). I'm sure we could come up with more similarities between MJ and KD like they both eat food and breath air, but really who cares?

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of things to say:

I agree with you, KD's first season will most likely be disappointing. But that is somewhat due to how dominating he was in college and how much hype is surrounding him (doubly so with Oden now out for the season), as well as the reasons you stated i.e. adjusting his game to the NBA etc.etc.

The rest of your article is nonsense and most posters before me have clearly brought you to task on most points. Especially when you drag his summer league performance into it. Green and Petro and maybe (once a blue moon) Sene, are the only players from that side who will log any time with him in the NBA. Im certain if that team had a capable point guard they would have won a few more games.

Im sure his rebounding average from college to the NBA will be way, way down but I won't be surprised if he averages 20+ and 5 in his rookie season. His rookie of the year season.

Kevin said...

Dios Mio what kind of sports fans are you people?

1. Leave Jordan out of this. The only person we can say with any certainty has jordan's killer instinct is Kobe. Only him.

2. College sucks. Nobody plays defense. It's why you have all the comebacks. College D sucks. Durant has the good for sure, but realistically, we won't know for 3 years right? College D sucks, the players are future accountants, and the fact that they can't be paid is loathsome to say the least.
Money talks, baby. My free time is valuable to me. I want to see highly paid professional atheletes, who are the best in the world, play at the highest level, and i dont care how much backtalk , whining, or cornrows they go or have. Irrelevant. If i want to see some boxing, do i go to the high school smoking area? Please.

3. Durant seems to have a bit of that nasty , Agent Zero, Kobe, cut your throat vibe to his game. This is very , very good. That and his obvious physical talents will make him a decent NBA player. Barring...

4. 6'10" shooting guards get hurt in a hurry. No way he can keep up with NBA 2's .. No way. It means more than his scoring, since he will be a Jalen Rose type door to the basket ( OMG down by 2? 15 seconds to go? Wait... Who's Durant got? Ok, 2 screens and... )

5. 46 pound small forwards get hurt too. When Durant drives the lane, he's gonna get an elbow in the gut. Over and Over and Over and Over. Hard, veteran, vicious elbows swung by say Saint Potepenko, or He of the open hands , Bruce Bowen.. who know how to make you hurt. Who know how to take the air out of your game. They are gravity to birds like Kevin. Will he take the "Mincing Vincent" way and stay on the perimeter? Or will he take his bruised body to the trainer, slap him in the face and say "You need to make me able to make them all pay. Lets start now" Tough to say until we see him on the hardwood, eh?

6. The hype machine is very often wrong
a) Harold "Baby Jordan" Miner
b) Isaiah "JR" Rider ( Make NO mistake the east bay funk dunk was the best thing i've ever seen... just because the guy was a headcase you can not take that away from him )
c) Grant Hill ( oh yes, oh yes, was not his fault but wtf, all it takes is a bad break, and your hall of fame spot is taken by the next guy and they happen to people who are too skinny [ Are you listening Mr Livingston?] )

7. Finally, dude has a point. He wrote a very well thought out and reasoned article, about somebody irrelevant ( an NBA Rookie ) and you called him an idiot and wished him ill. Durant might be really good. Maybe not. Might be as good as Bird, or Nowitsky, or Lewis, or Glen Rice or George Gervin or whatever... Maybe not. Still, you call a man an idiot, you need to come either with your name so you can show your balls, or come with facts to prove him wrong. Fuck all you haters.

Kieran said...

I've been waiting for someone to say this. I wholeheartedly agree. The NBA is all about athleticism, and if you are not a mega-athlete, you'll be in trouble. Durant, while incredibly gifted, is weak and slow for the NBA. Heck, I played D-III, and he's weak for D-III. I'm 6'1 190, and a reasonably fit guy. Kevin Durant is 6'10'', 1901lbs. And I can out-bench press him, which is pretty sad seeing as how I lift weights twice a week.

I go to a lot of NBA games, and those guys are behemoths. Every NBA has 3 or 4 guys with physiques that will terrify you. I also attended a lot of Duke basketball games, and I can tell you that the level of athleticism is a fraction of what it is in the NBA. The difference in physical attributes will have an ENORMOUS impact on his ability to play in the NBA. Mediocre players will push him off the ball easily. This was clear in the summer league. I suspect Kevin Durant will eventually be an all-star, but not for a good 4-5 years.

If he's playing the Nuggets, he'd guard Melo. The Suns? Marion? They'll get 50 each against him.

In the meantime, the Sonics will be a terrible, terrible team this years. I'm predicting 15-20 wins this year, a tally which would be lower, except the second and third worst teams in the NBA (Minnesota and Oden-less Portland) are also in their division.

Also, whoever said that Melo and Durant are similar knows nothing about basketball. Carmelo Anthony by most accounts has THE fastest first step in the game, and his game is all about going to the line.

Anonymous said...

ken,

Dwyane Wade is, in fact,

a.)quicker/more explosive

and

b.)stronger

than anyone in the league trying to guard him. He's considered by by his peers to have the quickest first step of any 2-guard, and he's stacked with muscle.

I agree with your other examples, though.

Anonymous said...

Care to update?

Anonymous said...

WELL...WELL...WELL...Scoring title...and Pretty Damn Fast!

Durant said...

LOL You haterz!!! Durant is was the best player at college and what make you think he cant be the best in the NBA? You people who spoke against him are dumb. College is more harder to compete in than the NBA. You have so much to prove with guys who run on young legs jacked up on high sperm counts.Durant is 21 and won a scoring title already with elite player like Bron, Wade, Kobe,Melo? He havent even reached his ceiling yet.Thats scary never have I seen a player with his mind frame at a young age in the league.Never doubt this man go ahead haterz say something else. Whats wrong scared?

Durant said...

P.S Durant at 21 is better than melo..Durant is the leader on his team.Melo is not making those smiling faces when something go wrong. Billups is the leader on Denver.Durant can do it all score, rebound,block, pass.Durant need more work on defense but it will get better..Melo only has strengh on Durant. Both can put up close numbers.

Durant said...

Shannon great post!!!!!!!!! You hit all in one post.

taebo training said...

I think the Morrison/Durant comparison has been played out, that does seem pertinent. If Kevin Durant can find a way to get to the league in the NBA, I'm wrong about him.

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Anonymous said...

I agree. Durant will not do well in the NBA... lol

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