Kevin Durant was basically playing point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder for large chunks of their preseason game vs. the Philadelphia 76ers yesterday.
Durant finished the game with 12 assists. His career-high in the regular season is 11 assists.
KD taking on more of a playmaking role is something he has been trying to do lately. With Russell Westbrook missing the first 4-6 weeks of the season, you can bet on seeing a lot more of Durant playmaking than ever before.
I’ve always been somewhat on the fence with Durant as a playmaker. I don’t like the idea of him getting away from his true identity. And while Durant as a playmaker is not a perfect fit yet, he makes lots of turnovers and bad passes at times, I often wish he would just be looking for his shot.
With Westbrook out, it’s hard to argue that Durant shouldn’t try and assume the playmaking role more than ever. Defenses will be focused on him like they were in the playoffs, praying he passes to the teammates they aren’t covering.
Studies have shown in the NBA that an open shot is nearly always better to take than a covered one, even if it is Durant taking the contested shot. The Thunder don’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to working to taking “good” shots. Their success is more know from being able to make tough shots at a very high level, something that can come in very handy in the playoffs when defenses are tough.
No matter how talented the Thunder and Durant and Westbrook are in particular when it comes to making those tough shots, there’s no questioning that the Thunder need to reinvent their offense this season if they are going to win playoff series.
The biggest thing the Thunder can do is get players like Thabo Sefolosha or Jeremy Lamb to take and in turn make a lot of open shots this season. More rounded offensive scoring will make the Thunder tougher, and the threat of players not named Durant and Westbrook scoring, will make it easier on those two as well.
The Thunder grow up a little bit every season as they appear to get closer and closer to that championship level. This is the next way they need to mature, with Durant as a playmaker getting his teammates more involved.