How Does Kevin Durant’s Return Affect Anthony Morrow?


In his first full season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Anthony Morrow played 1,806 minutes, but only 282 of those were with Kevin Durant according to With Durant set to begin full basketball activities at the beginning of August, Morrow is set up to have a career year. 

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Morrow averaged 10.7 points and shot 43 percent from three-point range last season. He really caught fire after the All-Star break, shooting a scorching 51 percent and averaging 12.7 points.

Morrow’s three-point percentage was hurt by his awful January, where he shot just 28 percent. He will most likely have a few fantastic months like last year, and he probably won’t have a month as bad as last January again.

Morrow had to take a lot of very difficult threes in order to take some of the burden off Russell Westbrook. His quick release will make it almost impossible for defenses to recover and contest after having to guard either Westbrook or Durant.

This year, with the attention Durant and Westbrook receive, Morrow shouldn’t have to shoot nearly as many contested threes. That’s scary for opposing teams, because Morrow has already proven to be a historically good shooter.

In his first six seasons, Morrow has shot 42.9 percent from beyond the arc, which puts him at ninth all-time in NBA history ahead of active sharpshooters Danny Green (42 percent) and Klay Thompson (41.8 percent).

Durant and Westbrook have provided other shooters not nearly on Morrow’s level the opportunity for career years. In 2012-2013, Thabo Sefolosha had his best offensive season ever. He shot 41 percent from three and 48 percent from the field. But when he played with Durant and Westbrook, he was even better.

According to, Sefolosha shot 42 percent from three, and a staggering 71 percent from the field. Just to give you an idea, Sefolosha is a career 35 percent three-point shooter, and shoots a career 44 percent from the field. (Seriously, if you want to see how awesome Westbrook and Durant are, visit this website to see what they do for their teammates.)

Now back to Morrow. He relies heavily on his teammates to create open looks for him. He made 285 field goals and 222 (78 percent) of those were assisted. Last year, Westbrook was the lone playmaker for the Thunder. But with Durant returning, Morrow will see plenty of court time with the All-Star duo because of the floor spacing he provides.

"“When I was on the floor with both of those guys (Durant and Westbrook) it was exactly like what I thought it would be and what everybody thought it would be … All Russell and Kevin need is a sliver of space to make a play. I’m looking forward to being on the court with them again,” Morrow said, via Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman."

When he first came into the league, Durant was not known as a playmaker. But his ability to create shots for others reached elite levels in 2013 when Westbrook missed almost half of the season. Morrow will be on the receiving end of a lot of passes like this:

Just replace Sefolosha with Morrow. The defense completely collapses on Durant, and he makes the right read by kicking it out to Sefolosha.

Morrow is the best shooter Durant has ever been teamed up with, and if teams are hesitant to help off him, Durant will have a lot of room to operate.

The Thunder also love to run the pick-and-roll with Westbrook and Durant. New head coach Billy Donovan is known for running a screen-heavy offense, so there may actually be more of these than in the past. In that set, Morrow will be on the weak side, and often ignored while Durant and Westbrook have the attention of defenses.

With arguably the deepest team OKC has ever had, along with Donovan’s creative coaching, this should be the Thunder’s best offensive team to date. Morrow will have a lot to do with that, and playing with a teammate who commands attention like Durant will be a major reason why.

Next: Kevin Durant's Top Plays in the '14-'15 Season