Let’s take another bite into some film, shall we? This time, we’re going to look at what changed for Kevin Durant between the first half (where he scored 20 points) and the second half and overtime (where he scored just eight) Wednesday night against the Lakers. Roll the video! (As always, big props to Johnny for the video. Check out the shiny arrows and commentary he added!)
Some specific breakdowns after the jump.
For reference, the light blue arrows are OKC’s player movement and the purple are for the Lakers. Simple drive and dish here. Durant sucks in three Lakers and it leaves a deadly 3-point shooter on the wing. Nothing too complicated, just a smart basketball play by Durant.
Same idea as last time, but this time KD goes baseline. He makes a smart bounce pass to a good jump shooter in Krstic for the bucket. Durant knows he’s going to draw attention. He also knows if he attacks the rim, he’s going to get some calls. He’ll also score some. It’s just picking your battles. The key is, attack when YOU’RE the best scoring option at that moment. When there is a better option on the wing or cutting, find that. This is something Russell Westbrook struggled with and really still is.
This time, the three defenders collapse but KD goes ahead to the rim. You’ll also notice a fourth defender waiting to come and help as well. It’s easy to point these plays out now, but in that moment with the game moving so fast, it’s not easy to see for Durant. He’s trying to find a way to score, whether it’s him or someone else. But these are things he’ll learn. He’ll start sensing better when he can get to the rim for a less contested shot and when to dish.
As Johnny pointed out in the video, the difference between Durant’s last shot and the shot earlier is so important. The fact KD had the taller Bynum on him made all the difference in the world. Little things like that are so key in basketball and sometimes are hard to notice. The main reason I love watching this type of stuff is that while I like to see someone score, I also like to see HOW they scored. On both ends.
It’s going to get better for Durant as he begins to feel the collapsing defense and understand when to drive on and when to dish out.