Kevin Durant can score from anywhere. The defenses don't know what to do.

Watching Kevin Durant play offensively is a bit like spending summers in the South. You know what to expect and prepare for it, but you...


Watching Kevin Durant play offensively is a bit like spending summers in the South. You know what to expect and prepare for it, but you always find yourself saying to other people, “Dude, can you believe this heat? “

Even the most casual NBA fan knows Durant is one of the best offensive players to speak. But this year, Durant manages to surpass himself. In 14 games, leading up to Tuesday’s game with Golden State, Durant was on track for one of the best seasons of his career. He had taken the Nets to a 10-4 record, although he didn’t have Kyrie Irving as a playmaker alongside him, and with James Harden getting off to a slower-than-expected start. Durant makes a serious run for a second MVP.

He averages 29.6 points per game to lead the NBA – and that would be the career-best percentage of 58.6 percent of field goals. Durant’s true shooting percentage – a measure of offensive effectiveness that includes free throws and 3-point shots – is 0.682, placing him among the leaders of the league.

But under the hood, there’s another mind-boggling stat that makes this season different: Durant’s mid-range game buzzes at a ridiculous level he’s never seen before.

While mid-range shooting has generally fallen into disuse in the NBA over the past decade, Durant has long made it a calling card. The midrange is generally defined as the area outside of the free throw lane but inside the 3 point line, which is just under 24 feet from the basket and closer to the corners.

Durant shoots a whopping 70.3 percent between 16 feet from the basket and the 3-point line. To put that in perspective, he shot better than 50% of that range over an entire season. just twice during his last 13 active seasons. About a fifth of his shots usually come from this distance, with another fifth coming from 10 to 16 feet (some of them could come from inside the free throw lane).

For the most part, teams have stopped creating an attack in this area, as modern analyzes calculate that the most effective shots are those on the basket or outside the 3-point line. But when you shoot as well as Durant, those guidelines don’t apply to you. Occupying that intermediate space on the court is a crucial part of Durant’s play – so much so that his typical warm-up routine involves meticulous repetition of midrange shots.

Durant’s most unstoppable weapon is the pull-up jumper, and given his 6ft 10in height, that’s what allows him to be so dangerous from this range. Opposing defenders are usually not tall enough to challenge him properly, and those who are not lack the speed of the foot to keep Durant from reaching his place and getting up.

In the Nets’ first offensive possession against Oklahoma City on Sunday, Durant grabbed the ball over the baseline and, in the blink of an eye, shot an 18-foot jumper over the 6-foot-8 Thunder forward. Darius Bazley. Players slower than Durant could have stepped back a few feet and shot a 3 point, and shorter players could have tried to drive. But Durant is quick enough to drive right or left and big enough to shoot Bazley or back him into the post. Bazley was at a disadvantage as Durant caught the ball.

A secondary move that Durant turns to in the midrange often is a variation of a fade jumper, sometimes on one leg. An example: in the second quarter on Sunday, once again with Bazley tied against him, Durant pushed his opponent back to the post. The Thunder, realizing Bazley was overwhelmed, sent a second defender to try and disrupt Durant. No dice. Durant simply turned and walked away from the two defenders in the air and hit a jumper. Neither was tall enough to interfere with his vision of the basket. In the third quarter, he hit a virtually identical shot.

Defenders often try to gain advantage by anticipating the movements of the attack and being a fraction of a second faster. But how do you prepare for Durant, who does all the usual things well, and is an avid threat to an area of ​​the pitch that defenders usually don’t have to worry about? And how do you properly challenge a fadeaway when your opponent is already taller than you? Durant’s ability to dominate in a neglected area opens up a world of options for the Nets, in that it forces defenses into a game plan to protect players across the pitch, rather than just at the line of. 3 points or to the basket.

Or as Durant said in a post on twitter in 2019: “I usually play by sensation, if I’m hot from the 3rd, then I take a lot of 3s, if my middy is working, that’s where I’m going to have dinner. If the way opens, I stay in the painting.

Durant is unlikely to continue shooting better than 70% at 16 feet throughout the season. Chris Paul, the Suns goaltender who is one of the best midrange players in NBA history, has a career high 55.7% of this range in 2017-18. The best for Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs cornerstone known for his midrange abilities, was 49.4% in his second of 19 seasons.

With the Nets having a only medium offense so far this season, they might need all of Durant’s otherworldly production to maintain their status as championship contender.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Kevin Durant can score from anywhere. The defenses don't know what to do.
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