USA Basketball: Kevin Durant being asked to shoot more for Team USA

The United States won their first Olympic basketball game yesterday against France 98-71. It was a relatively easy win for them as France isn’t really a team that will challenge them.

Kevin Durant led the team scoring 22 points and making three 3-pointers. That number easily led the team as Durant is surely the favorite to lead this team in scoring.

But Durant’s teammates and coaches want the 3-time scoring champion to shoot the ball more.

“I told KD (Durant) to just be himself,” LeBron James told the Charlotte Observer. “On a team like this you can kind of shy away because there are so many great players here. But KD’s on this team for a reason. He’s one of the best players the world has and he’s a three-time scoring champ. So we don’t want the KD that defers. We want the KD that he is in Oklahoma City.”

LeBron is absolutely right about this. There’s no point in Durant playing on this team with a different mentality than the one that has earned him three straight scoring championships.

It is understandable for Durant to not immediately want to get on the floor and start gunning. It’s not really his personality to be that way especially with all of the great players around him. Durant needs to realize though that he should stop thinking and just start playing for this team to win gold.

Team USA has some flaws. They are small and will be at a disadvantage against a few teams that could beat them, mainly Spain and Brazil. Team USA’s greatest strength against those teams is Durant and his ability to score so easily against them.

Durant is seeing defense that isn’t even close to what he has to deal with in the NBA. Watching him against these countries you see him with so much more room to operate when he has the ball. It has resulted in him shooting a very high percentage from three so far as he is given a ton of room right on the catch.

Durant has been passive though at other times. When driving to the rim he has often kicked out and looked to make a pass instead of to score. Durant’s strength is scoring though and from anywhere on the floor. Team USA will live with him overshooting instead of him trying to play nice and get other players touches.

“Sometimes coach was screaming at me,” Durant said. “And Chris Paul was screaming at me more than anybody, ‘Shoot the ball!’ I guess I’ve got to be aggressive.”

We can expect to see an even more aggressive Durant now for the rest of the Olympics which has to be scary for every team the U.S. will play. No one has a player they can put on Durant to slow him down.

Team USA will play Tunisia in their next game tomorrow at 5:15 p.m. EST.

Tags: 2012 Olympics France Kevin Durant LeBron James Mike Krzyzewski Tunisia USA Basketball

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