Disappointing Durant

Eight rebounds. That’s it. Kevin Durant played 137 minutes of summer league basketball and all he could get were eight rebounds. At the Summer League games 94 players logged at least 100 minutes. Durant was out-rebounded by all of these players except Warriors guard Marco Belinelli.

Let’s put that production in some perspective. From 1993-94 to 2006-07 there were 5,328 players who played at least 137 minutes in an NBA regular season. Of these, all but 53 managed to rebound at a rate better than 8 boards per 137 minutes. And none of these players were 6’9” tall.

Okay, let me put that stat this way. Starting with the 1993-94 season, 99% of all NBA players were able to capture more rebounds per 137 minutes than eight. Ninety-Nine Percent.

When we turn to shooting efficiency we see a similar story. Durant took 78 field goal attempts in four games. From these shots he scored 57 points, which results in a points-per-shot rate of 0.731. Of the 94 players who played 100 minutes in the Summer League, all but 10 managed to shoot better than this. When we look at the 5,324 players who have logged at least 137 minutes in the NBA since 1993-94, we see that all but 212 – or all but 96% — shot better than 0.731.

In Durant’s last game he played 38 minutes and captured three rebounds, which is again well below average. His points-per-shot was 0.89, which is well below the NBA average of 0.97. Despite this ineptitude, this is how his performance was described by the Associated Press.

Kevin Durant had the stage to himself. The second overall pick did not disappoint.

If such a performance doesn’t disappoint, exactly what would he have to do to not meet expectations? This is a 6’9” forward who is supposed to be a major star in the NBA. But he couldn’t score efficiently and he couldn’t rebound.

And, as noted, this game was not an aberration. Across four games Durant had a Win Score 0f -3.0. Yes, his Win Score was in the negative range in the Summer League. Now you can call Durant a power forward, small forward, shooting guard, or point guard. But a negative Win Score is below average not matter what you call him.

Do these four games mean anything at all? I would think not. Durant’s college numbers suggest he should be a very good professional. And I think the college numbers should trump four summer league games.

Whether the summer league games matter or not is beside the point I am making. It’s the perception of Durant’s performance that I am focusing upon.

The description of Durant’s performance focused on the moves he made on the court. But basketball is not figure skating. The scoreboard doesn’t care about the moves you make on the court. It only cares about your numbers. And Durant’s numbers were very bad in Las Vegas.

So if you are a Sonics fan, or just a fan of Durant, hopefully you were disappointed to see Durant average only two more rebounds per game than you did. Hopefully you expect the Sonics brain trust to make a note: “Must tell Durant that rebounding is part of his job description. Oh, and we have to tell him that we like it when the shots he takes go in.”

If Durant doesn’t get that message, you can expect the results the Sonics offered in Vegas to continue in 2007-08. Behind the “non-disappointing” Durant, Seattle managed to lose every game it played in Vegas. And what makes this even more “disappointing” for Seattle fans is that the Sonics were the only team playing two of its starters. Yes, with two starters in the line-up, Seattle still couldn’t win any games in Vegas. When you look at this way, it’s all just a bit disappointing.

– DJ

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