Apr 28, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) drives to the basket against Dallas Mavericks small forward Shawn Marion (0) during the first half in game one of the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Thunder Playbook: Kevin Durant in the post vs. the Dallas Mavericks

Kevin Durant has struggled from the field against the Dallas Mavericks in the first two games of their first round series.

Durant went 10-for-27 in Game 1 and then 5-for-17 in Game 2. He has made some big plays most notably the Game 1 game-winner but getting that shooting number up will definitely be a priority for the Thunder moving forward.

Something that Oklahoma City has tried to get better at this season is getting Durant touches closer to the rim and in the post. Durant posted up 10.5 percent of the time this season. Last year he was only posting 6.5 percent of the time and two years ago 5.7 percent.

The 10.5 percent is still kind of low for a player like Durant but a step in the right direction as far as most people are concerned.

In the first two games against Dallas in this series, Durant has posted up 13 times. That doesn’t seem like a ton but it is more than he did during the regular season.

Durant has gone 4-for-8 from the field in those 13 possessions, turned the ball over three times and been fouled twice (once in the act of shooting).

Durant has flat out not appeared very comfortable posting up in these two games. One reason is that Durant has been guarded primarily by Shawn Marion who does a very good job on him.

Durant essentially does two things when he is in the post: he either shoots a jump shot over his right shoulder or tries to go strong to the rim over his left shoulder (or simply toward the middle of the floor usually).

Durant isn’t strong enough yet to develop the kind of post game that Dirk Nowitzki has and that’s surely what Durant is trying to eventually do already using that stepback one-footer (which by the way Durant has far from mastered as it seems to almost never go in).

So what should Durant be doing when he gets the ball in the post against Dallas? We know Oklahoma City is going to continue to try and get him touches down there and it’s a spot where he should be able to score since he is always 4-to-5 inches taller than his defender.

The best thing he ever does is face up. This is usually because he will get pushed out too far and in Durant’s case that’s almost a better thing. When he faces up he can either simply shoot over his defender (probably the best case) or drive strong to his right and draw contact.

When he drive to his right while having his back to the basket he seems to always lose his balance. But when he is already facing he is much more comfortable and can elevate on his way to the rim.

But it’s not always going to be easy for him to face up the way Dallas defends him. They like to get as close as possible to him and really body him up. This means Durant will have to try and go to shots with his back to the basket.

He looks the most comfortable going to the fadeaway over his right shoulder (most righties do). The one problem here and why Durant isn’t more effective with this shot is that he’s not one to put a lot of arc on his jumper like Dirk would. And while fading back that makes the shot very difficult to drop.

I’d like to see Durant try and go glass when he uses his fadeaway. He doesn’t do it often so I’m not going to hold my breath on this one but I think he’d make a higher percentage of these shots.

Either way, when he has his back to the basket he should almost always be going to that fadeaway. It’s an automatic clean look if nothing else.

Depending on how the game is being called I wouldn’t mind him trying to drive but it seems the only good that ever comes from that is a foul being called.

At the end of the day, it’s nice that Durant is posting more but I don’t know how useful it is going to be especially when he has a very solid defender like Marion covering him.

He’s just not ready to dominate from that position and until he learns to, the Thunder might be stuck one notch below the level of champion.

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Tags: Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki Kevin Durant NBA Playoffs Oklahoma City Thunder Post Up Shawn Marion

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