Zach Lowe of Grantland: “It won’t be an issue in this series, and it might not crop up until and unless the Thunder meet Miami in the Finals, but it’s a tad concerning that Oklahoma City hasn’t been able to find a second wing player who combines size, defense, and outside shooting. Sefolosha is as close as Oklahoma City has to this type of player (other than Durant, obviously), and he did maintain a 40 percent–plus mark from 3-point range while hoisting 4.2 triples per 36 minutes this season — way above his career attempt numbers. But defenses still don’t guard him, and Sefolosha doesn’t make them pay in high volumes, or off the dribble. The rest of Oklahoma City’s backup ball handlers/wings are either too small for the job (Reggie Jackson), too old and too small (Derek Fisher), or flat-out disastrous on defense (Kevin Martin). Just a little thing to watch as Oklahoma City bounds toward June. Also: Please kindly eliminate those minutes when neither Westbrook nor Durant is on the floor, at least in high-leverage games.”
KD in Lee Jenkins’ fabulous profile on efficiency: “Let’s say you’ve got 40 apples on your tree,” Durant explains. “I could eat about 30 of them, but I’ve begun limiting myself to 15 or 16. Let’s take the wide-open three and the post-up at the nail. Those are good apples. Let’s throw out the pull-up three in transition and the step-back fadeaway. Those are rotten apples. The three at the top of the circle — that’s an in-between apple. We only want the very best on the tree.” That’s brilliant from KD right there.
Ben Golliver of SI.com: “The takeaway feeling is that Durant exists these days entirely within the “edge” that elite athletes often talk about, and it’s enough to make you wonder how he stays sane, given James’ all-encompassing dominance, and whether the mean streak he’s shown this season is a negative by-product of all that built-up tension. Jenkins explores, concluding that Durant hasn’t fundamentally changed, even if he has evolved.”
Hey CBS Houston, this is really bad. You should take it down.
Ian Levy of HP on sixth men: “Setting aside the issue of actual skill sets, even enumerating and identifying a sixth man seems oddly anachronistic. The group of players that begins each game is the starting five, and should they ever be separated and numerically labelled it is by position not talent. But when we stretch to 5 + 1, the additional number becomes a label of talent, grouping that player with the starting five and at the same time separating them from their off-the-bench peers. At it’s core, it seems like the whole idea of sixth man is carving out something separate; separate from a system, separate from teammates, separate from everything that we know about successful basketball. Looking at someone as a sixth man inherently depresses the importance of the five who come before and and the six who come after.”
Eric Freeman of BDL on KD using analytics: “In other words, Durant could be starting a trend that will change the way athletes approach the sport. Perhaps players will become more attuned to their own weaknesses and cut out the inefficiencies, which in turn makes them more likely to notice similar issues in their opponents, which changes the structure of NBA defenses entirely. As of this point, we don’t really know. However, Durant’s actions should serve as a reminder that the principles of personal development can end up changing the league more than any serious external conflict. Revolutions often start at a small, personal level.”