I'm hard-pressed to figure out what's different about Kevin Durant in the past few months...
It is sort of driving me mad...
Really mad when we lose, and maddening when we win.
Back to stats to see what Eastern Mysticism we can dream up with some stats about the current state of the Thunder:
(Discounting last nights game, we glance into the Crystal Stat-Ball covering the Thunder's last 5 wins, over a week or two, and the last 5 losses, over a month.)
When the Thunder win:
- KD makes at least 2 three pointers, while averaging 3.6 attempts from dowtown p/game.
- KD turns the ball over an average of 4 times p/game.
- KD averages 25.2 points, on 50% shooting from inside the arc, and has 2.8 assists p/game.
- KD averages 8.4 total rebounds with 2 steals and 1 block p/game.
- KD averages 36 minutes.
When the Thunder lose: (watch this closely now)
- KD makes 1 three pointer, while averaging 3.6 attempts from downtown p/game.
- KD turns the ball over an average of 5 times p/game.
- KD averages 30.6 points, on 50% shooting from inside the arc, and has 3.8 assists p/game.
- KD averages 8.4 total rebounds with 1 steal and 2 blocks p/game.
- KD averages 42 minutes.
So...as the mist emerges and a solid conclusion forms...
He's pretty much doing the same things statistically, with very minor differences in both wins and losses. If anything he's pretty much a model of consistency for doing the same things day in and day out.
So, if we wanted a not-so-solid-why-the-hell-are-you-showing-us-this type of conclusion, I'll be absolutely forced to tell you what I think:
The Thunder do not, yet, have the system down that San Antonio has...regarding sharing the ball, in efficient and dominating fashion amongst the greater population of the team, such that Scott Brooks gets any credit for Sam Presti trading James Harden, and yet having a better statistically performing team...(see here).
However, these stats pretty much tell you that it ain't KD doing this winning and losing by himself.
Remember, this post is about whether KD is himself being himself, or himself being his new, not nice self...which is funny, because his new not nice self, is actually nicer with the ball than his old self...shooting less, but just as efficiently, passing the ball more, increasing assists, increasing rebounds, and unfortunately increasing turnovers a bit as well...from last year.
Perhaps, he's just not singularly dominating games by scoring like he was last year, but is having just as big an impact on the game, or even greater impact by being a better all-around player.
And...just to let us "KD ain't right" thinkers have a solitary smidgen of credibility...
I have noticed that the 3 point ball remains a key. Not just for the points, but the offensive system itself. My observations are as follows, take what you will from it...
Kevin needs to make that second 3 point shot...every game. He's not jacking 3's like he did last year, but shooting at a higher make percentage in 2013. He's driving more, and dishing more. I think he's a bit easier to guard on his drives, because he's not throwing daggers in as often from downtown. He appears, (no fact yet to back this up, I need time to research this part), he's not catching and shooting from behind the arc as he did last year. He needs to do this more... when he catches and shoots from 3, he forces the defense to be up on him all the time. When he catches and drives, the defense tends to lay off him a bit more... and his turnovers increase. This will get better, I'm sure, as will the offense, but look at how this played out last night...
Scott Brooks calls a timeout with 8 1/2 minutes left as the Thunder went down by 5.
In a move that Royce Young (DailyThunder.com) tweeted about, and I agree completely with...the Thunder came out of that timeout and absolutely destroyed the Bucks in less than 3 minutes. It took less than a minute for the Thunder to regain the lead, starting a 12-0 run. Something that (according to Royce), the Spurs' Pops would have been given Coach of the Year for, on the spot. But not Scotty...he's an inept coach with a lot of talent, if you listen to people talk in the media much.
What I just said: The Thunder ran the pick and roll all throughout the second half, with different personnel...scoring effectively the entire time. Ibaka had 10 points in the 3rd, Nick Collision had his share...all coming off of a direct pick and roll, or some derivation thereof.
The Dagger came when Westbrook ran the pick and roll, top of the key...and Serge took off at a dead sprint as Russ passed him. Russ's defender was picked and trailed Russell, usually predicting a teleportation move to the bucket...so, Ibaka's defender has to split the difference between surging Serge, and rocketing Russell. Same thing we'd done all night...except, for one tiny little thing called coaching.
Durant had been purposefully moved to the right side of the court, after a cross-court cut opened up the wing (courtesy of Derek Fisher, moving without the ball, getting no credit on the deal whatsoever).
Durant, on the right wing, sits low...and outside...where a few minutes before, he'd taken two guys baseline for a dunkish-type-layup thingie. His defender is wary...very wary.
Back to rocketing Russell and surging Serge (I know this is long, but you've pulled up the mental replay by now, so hang with me).
Durant's defender has to move on Ibaka or he'll be hanging from the rim....AGAIN!
So, KD, the NBA's reigning 3 time scoring champion, is left on the right wing, with nobody around him but Milwaukee fans that suddenly feel ill and don't know why...they think the Buck's D is about shut down Ibaka.
Russ hits KD, instead of time travelling or passing to Ibaka...who catches, and shoots. No thinking, no dribbling, and no air in the building... it is a commercial coming true in real life...We indeed ALL KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING...boom.
Milwaukee gives up.
Scott Brooks moved his chess pieces, controlled his uncontrollable point guard, distracted the defensive world with Harden's exchange player, and Air Congo...so that Kevin Durant could tie his shoe, download DoodleJump, and nail a shot to kill the Bucks.
(On a side note: that gave Russ his first triple double in 2 years...interesting...and in other news, Uncle Skip had sudden explosive diarrhea for no apparent reason.)
So, shoot more, shoot less...dribble more dribble less...or let the coach move the guys around a bit and keep putting it all together...at the right time...