Bill Russell recently sat down with NBA.com for a Q&A in which he discussed his health, the Olympic and the state of today’s NBA.
Russell had mostly positive things to say about this generation, including Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.
“What I admire about Kevin Durant is that he even though he’s the leading scorer, he’s not always the first option,” Russell said. “And that’s unusual for an elite scorer because they are usually the first option. Kevin gets his points within the flow of the offense. I don’t recall seeing him calling for the ball.”
This is a very good point that Russell makes. It is true that part of what makes Durant such a great scorer, is that he can get his in the flow of an offense. In fact, that is when Durant and the Thunder are at their best. When Durant is going one-on-one solely looking to score, the Thunder are worse off. But when he can play off the ball, come off screens or act as a spot-up shooter, he becomes much more deadly.
Part of why it may seem like Durant isn’t always the first option is because of the way Russell Westbrook acts with the ball, often coming down and shooting without a pass. The Thunder have won like this and this dynamic works to keep Durant efficient while Westbrook handles the hoisting of bad, tough shots.
Russell isn’t right though when he says he doesn’t recall seeing Durant call for the ball. Durant may not be yelling for the ball but he almost always has his hand up calling for it when he is on the perimeter. That’s an area where Durant can get better is to move better without the ball and get in better position rather than standing around with his hand up.
Russell went on to compliment Durant as well as Derrick Rose and LeBron James as being first and foremost team guys, which has to be the ultimate compliment coming from the ultimate team guy in Russell.