There are many things that make Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant a difficult cover for NBA defenses. Those same things are things that make him eerily similar to former ABA and NBA star of the 1970s and 80s, “The Iceman” George Gervin.
For one, he has virtually unlimited range on his jump shot. He also can get to the basket easily and finish with contact, and he has the ability to shoot over any defender that’s guarding him, no matter how big. There is one Durant quality, though, that gives him the luxury of being able to shoot over any defender with ease at any time (which also gives him his most identifiable quality with Gervin) — his length.
Durant, listed at 6-foot-9 with a wingspan that really makes him a de facto 7-footer, can get down court and to the basket in a shorter time that most because of his long stride. He can also glide to the basket and lay the ball up at the rim with a finger roll that has just the right amount of “English” on it — the “Durantula” nickname being pretty appropriate.
Both Durant and Gervin possess the ability to flat out put the ball in the basket. Gervin, at a long and lean 6-foot-7, 180 pounds, averaged 30 plus points twice in his career: a career-best 33.1 with the San Antonio Spurs in the 1979-80 season, and 32.3 in 1981-1982. He averaged 25.1 points overall in his 14 seasons in both leagues, spending time with the Virginia Squires in the ABA as well as the Spurs in both the ABA and NBA.
Durant, meanwhile has averaged 26.6 thus far in his young career.
What also makes them so similar is their uncanny ability to glide to the basket and lay the ball up with an easy roll of the finger. Gervin is widely known as the father of the finger roll – or “the fanger roll”, as he called it. Durant, because of his wingspan, can complete the move with rather ease as well.
Then there are both players’ on-court approaches. Gervin is famously known as “the Iceman” for his cool court demeanor. Durant plays the same way — rarely getting worked up, unflappable under pressure, and able to hit big shot after big shot when the moment presents itself.
What separates Durant from Gervin though is their overall games, hence the reference to Durant being a new version, a “2.0″ of the Iceman, if you will. Durant is a better free throw shooter than Gervin was, with Durant at 90 percent from the line and Gervin at 84 percent for his career. 3-point shooting also sees a big difference, with Durant at 37 percent for his career and Gervin 27 percent.
Durant also became just the fourth player in NBA history to have a season with averages of 50 percent or above from the field, 90 percent or above from the free throw line, and 40percent or above from three point territory. Gervin never came close to that during his career.
But watch Durant now, and watch Gervin highlight reels, and it’s not hard to come to the conclusion that “Iceberg Slim” is this generation’s version of “the Iceman”.