Note: Numbers/metrics used prior to 4/4/13 game against the San Antonio Spurs.
Kevin Durant is finishing up his sixth NBA season and likely fourth straight season as the leading scorer in the league. While the scoring is impressive, it's some the contributing and accompanying numbers that truly sell the greatness of Durant. Kevin has continued to steadily improve year-to-year in all areas of his shooting percentages, shooting career highs in overall percentage (55.5%) and from the charity stripe (90.8%). The overall percentage is not surprising when glancing at Kevin's seasonal shot chart. Roughly 42% of Durant's shot attempts this season have been taken inside the lane (where he is shooting 60%). The attempts from the outside have slightly dropped this season but Durant is still shooting 4-plus attempts at a 41% clip (his second highest season percentage).
While Durant may not be scoring as much this season as he did in 2009-10, he is contributing more to the team's scoring through distribution. Whenever on the court, Durant essentially assists on every fifth possession (a high number for a forward). In offensive win shares, the estimate of wins contributed by a player due to his offense, Kevin Durant is only one of two players that contribute in double-digits (12.2 - LeBron James is 13.6).
Defensively, Durant's per game numbers in rebounds and blocks (without an increase in fouls) have also continued to improve season to season. This season, Durant allows 100 points per 100 opponent possessions but in Thunder victories the number is down to 96.8 per 100 possessions. Outside of 5 feet from the rim, the season shooting average for Durant's opponents is at a paltry 36.2%. Kevin's numbers in steals have remained idle since his rookie year but his defensive focus is based more on suffocation than it is risk.
Keep in mind that the Oklahoma City Thunder have the 6'9" forward under contract through the 2015-16 season and that Durant will still only be 27 years old when that contract expires. The Thunder fans are in good hands for a very long time.
Pop vs Sager
Manu's not here.
- Popovich responding to Craig Sager on who needs to step up in Manu's absence.
Quickie Game Hash
When the dust had settled, the Oklahoma City Thunder had 19 fast break points on 15 attempts down the floor. The San Antonio Spurs had 3 points on not even half as many fast break attempts. Despite the lack of bursts down the floor, the Spurs left easy points on the floor that could have easily changed the dynamic of the game, as well as the outcome. Rushed shots and poor decisions caused the Spurs to go 1 of 7 on their fast break runs. San Antonio was also unable to capitalize on the 12 turnovers (a relatively low number for the Thunder), averaging just over a point per opportunity (13 points total). Although San Antonio had less turnovers (10), the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to make the most of it by scoring 21 points.
Efficiency. Only one team had it last night.
My Game Boss
I've called Serge Ibaka a "glory defender" for most of his career due to the immense number of blocks the man has tallied on help defense. This isn't the truth since Ibaka's quickness, length, and athleticism make him so much more on various spots on the floor. Serge did an excellent job last night keeping Splitter off the glass on both ends (collected three offensive boards) and played tenacious defense on both Duncan and Splitter (and any ball handler that strolled into his area).
Offensively... the man's range game is still expanding. And that's just ridiculous.
My Game Runt
Danny Green was a mess on defense for the most part, getting lost on rotations and transitions, and was an even bigger disaster on offense. Green made two terrible passes in the second half that both led to three-point baskets by Oklahoma City. The second turnover allowed the Thunder to push the lead back up to 8 with just over 3 minutes remaining in the game.
I'll be honest - I wanted to type this section by just punching the keyboard.
By the Numbers
- 2 - Number of times the Spurs offense has produced more than one 100 points in last 7 games.
- 24 - Average number of three-point attempts by San Antonio over the last four games.
- 13 - Total blocks by the Thunder.
- 2 - Number of games Kawhi Leonard has scored less than 10 points since March 1st (14 games played).
- 3 - Spurs players off the bench that played in last night's game.
- 0 - Number of Spurs players who shot better than 50% last night. Leonard and Diaw both shot 50%.
- 6 - Offensive boards by the Thunder that were grabbed by a back court player.
- 14 - Rebounds by Kawhi Leonard.
- 8 - The difference in points scored off turnovers. The Spurs just could not capitalize on easy opportunities.
Odds & Ends
- Tony Parker only put up 6 shots before leaving the game with multiple injuries. Most of those shots were at a much higher grade/altitude than normal.
- This game would have been a 20-plus blowout if it weren't for Kawhi's aggressiveness leading the team.
- I enjoy watching other teams play and I'd enjoy the Thunder much more if Westbrook wasn't on the team.
- What is it going to take for the Spurs to finally put a body on Derek Fisher? It's only been 236 years.
- Danny Green makes me cringe whenever the ball is in his hands for longer than a second.
- Green is a hustle guy but he sometimes counter-balances that with empty-headed decisions on offense. Green's turnover with 3:30 to go may have well been his worst turnover ever.
- Much like the 2011-12 playoffs, Tiago Splitter was getting roughed up and taken out of his game. My hope for a positive impact in a series against the Thunder has dropped significantly.
- Speaking of Splitter - Tiago was a terrible 1 of 6 when the Spurs decided to go down low to him in the final minutes.
- Hopefully, the Spurs can use the first round of the playoffs to build some consistency because I'm certain they won't have any by the end of the regular season.
Bird is the Word
Kawhi Leonard trending. Get familiar with him. He's the future.— Zach Rogacion (@ZachRogacion) April 5, 2013
Kawhi Leonard is a vacuum cleaner. But these failed fast-break opportunities are killer.— Matthew R Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) April 5, 2013
Tony Parker: Missing— josh banda (@joshbanda) April 5, 2013
If you don’t think there are serious problems on this Spurs team beyond injuries I think you’re completely delusional.— TortiousTroll (@TortiousTroll) April 5, 2013
Going into the Next Game, the Spurs Need to...
...get rest, stay healthy, and win the easy games. With the Spurs' injury woes and four games still remaining against playoff caliber teams (three of those on the road), the top seed in the Western Conference basically belongs to the Thunder. San Antonio plays the Atlanta Hawks at home tomorrow and will likely be without the services of Tony Parker, Stephen Jackson, and (of course) Manu Ginobili. Kawhi Leonard is playing great but needs to back off due to the lingering tendinitis in his left quadriceps. And Tim Duncan just needs rest for his old bones.
It's not a major threat but the Spurs just need to win the easy games, something that has been rather difficult of late, to keep the surging Denver Nuggets (only 4 games back) from possibly taking the second seed.