This was kind of the topic of discussion in Saturday’s game recap after Oklahoma City’s win over Denver, but I wanted to look a little more closely at Kevin Durant’s work out of the double-team.
Teams have been doubling KD on the catch when he’s posting as well as off the dribble. After his 21-point third quarter, the Nuggets were determined to get the ball out of Durant’s hands. OKC tried to isolate on the wing with Durant, relying on him to either distribute as the double came or score if it didn’t. It worked out pretty well for the Thunder down the stretch and really showcased some more maturity in KD’s ever evolving game.
PLAY 1: [Q4, 5:37]
The first — and most important — part of beating a double-team is recognizing where the double is coming from. If two players are guarding one, but simple mathematics, you can figure out that someone is open. It’s all about figuring out who that guy is. One major advantage KD has is that he’s tall — he can see over most doubles. He does the correct thing here and turns to look where the double came from. A lot of times guys keep their backs to the double team. The simple play here is to just kick out to James Harden but that doesn’t advance the offensive possession at all. Instead, Durant see the double came off of Green, swings the ball to him forcing Nene to step out, which leaves Serge Ibaka wide open on the baseline. Truly a beautiful job of beating the double, all started by Durant. This is KD’s “hockey assist” he was talking about.
PLAY 2: [Q4, 4:02]
The Thunder failed on this play which resulted in a desperation heave from 3 from Durant. Why am I showing it? Because OKC should’ve beat the defense again. Tim Legler smartly points out how late in the shot clock OKC was operating and yes, Durant kicked out from the double-team with about four on 24. But the issue here is that James Harden was indecisive. He catches and instead of doing what Green did and drop the ball to the man in space on the baseline, he hesitates, letting the defense swarm him. Westbrook was open though if Harden just would’ve found him.
PLAY 3: [Q4, 3:47]
Not much to this one other than Durant just making a correct, decisive choice in passing to Green. The double didn’t even get to Durant before he recognized the open man in Green who had a ton of space. Green pumped on the catch getting his man to fly by, took one dribble and knocked down the jumper.
PLAY 4: [Q4, 3:10]
Durant is really triple-teamed here as the sideline is working as a defender on him. But he catches, lets the extra defender come to him and then dishes to Jeff Green on a cut who is fouled. Part of successfully getting past a double-team though isn’t just about the man that’s doubled though. It’s about the other players. Green makes a good decision to cut. Without Green’s cut, Durant is stuck and just has to swing out. One other thing to point out that KD did well: He stood his ground. He didn’t really lean back, or give ground. That’s one thing that’s natural to do when people are pressing up in your face. You lean or step back. Durant didn’t give up ground and used his size to pass out.