Durant Nets 32, Sonics Still LoseKevin Durant had the first high scoring performance (32 points, nearly matching his total of 36 from his first two games) of his brief NBA summer league career in an 85-74 loss to the Golden State Warriors. He also played some strong defense against summer league sensation Marco Belinelli, who managed just 16 points on 6-23 shooting. Not to take any credit away from the long-armed Durant, but Belinelli's shooting statistics have steadily declined since his 37 point debut, so it remains to be seen if Durant is really a lock down defender, if jet lag is catching up to Belinelli or if the summer league players in general simply figured out how to guard him better.
Durant did not have a great shooting night either, connecting on 9-23 from the field. He scored a lot of points at the free throw line, shooting 13-16, and it will be interesting to see if he can draw that many fouls in regular season NBA games. Also, although he had four steals, Durant managed just three rebounds, one assist and no blocked shots. He now has five rebounds and one assist in 99 minutes of play over three games. The main skill that he has displayed so far is the ability to draw fouls and make free throws (technically, I suppose that qualifies as two separate skills). Durant's free throw touch indicates that his field goal percentage will improve as he gets stronger and employs better shot selection but his lack of production in most other areas of the boxscore should not be just glossed over. Yes, this is just summer league and Durant has only played three games but guys who are going to be big time rebounders are able to go get the ball regardless of circumstances, provided that they play sufficient minutes--and Durant is receiving more than ample playing time to make his presence felt on the boards. Summer league players are not as quick, strong or skilled as the guys who Durant will see in the regular season, so don't expect his rebounding totals to go up much any time soon.
posted by David Friedman @ 7:10 AM