The Oklahoma City Thunder have continued to roll and fight for the top spot in the NBA’s Western Conference over the past few weeks. That’s been a bit surprising though, considering that their superstar Kevin Durant has struggled to shoot the ball at his normal high efficiency.
For the season, Durant has averaged 28.6 points per game on 50.7 percent shooting from the floor, and 42.1 percent from beyond the arc. That’s remarkably efficient, especially considering that Durant takes 118.1 shots per game.
Then again, there is a reason that he’s considered one of the best offensive players in the league.
But over their last five games, Durant has struggled to find the bottom of the net. Over that stretch, he’s averaged just 24.6 points, and shot just 41.5 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from downtown. That’s still a decent 3-point percentage, but it’s certainly not up to the standards that Durant has set for himself.
OKC has continued to win, though. Part of that is due to the outstanding play of their other star, Russell Westbrook. Another part of that success has to be attributed to how Durant has affected games outside of his scoring.
Durant has averaged 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game on the year. Over these past five games where he’s had his troubles shooting though, he’s boosted those numbers to 11.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists per contest. Just for good measure, he’s also added 1.6 blocks per game, up from his season average of 1.3 per game.
Durant is obviously an incredibly talented and athletic player, but he’s also unbelievably smart on the basketball court. There’s no doubt that he knows that he isn’t shooting the ball as effectively as he normally does, so he’s busting his rear-end in other areas of the game so that he can contribute to victories for the Thunder.
The way that Durant has found alternative ways to help his team win is just another reason why he’s one of the three best players in the NBA. He’s molding himself from being just an unreal scorer into a player that is able to produce in almost every facet of the game.
That’s the mark of a leader and a superstar, which is what the 24-year-old Durant has established himself as.