Since losing point guard Russell Westbrook to his third knee surgery in less than a year, Kevin Durant has taken it upon himself to carry the Oklahoma City Thunder. But with the team putting up a 5-4 record following the injury to Westbrook, Durant is learning that there's some give-and-take between eating up more shots and keeping his teammates involved, reports Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman.
"The first few games without Russell, we did a great job moving the ball," Durant said. "I think now I'm just flat out shooting too much. I have to find a way to get my teammates easier shots. I've been thinking these last few games in order for us to get it going I have to do it all offensively. But, nah, we have to do it together. It's a great learning experience for me. It's the first time I've really been in that type of position. But I just have to get everybody involved. I may have to pass up a few to find a better shot."
Durant is taking four more shots per game since losing Westbrook in late December, and his scoring has increased from 27.6 points through the first 28 games of the year to 34.2 points per game in the last nine. The All-Star forward's field goal shooting has dipped only a percent, but it's clear Durant could improve his shot selection from three.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said that if he is forced to criticize Durant, it's that he's taking too many triples off the dribble and not off the pass.
The numbers back that assertion up. Durant was hitting 43.1 percent from deep before Westbrook's latest injury but since is hitting just 33.9 percent. Durant hits 39.3 percent of his catch-and-shoot three-point attempts, according to the NBA.com stats tool.
The good news is Durant has already shown the ability to change the way he plays. After shooting a career-high 34 shots on Tuesday in a loss to the lowly Utah Jazz -- that included a 3-for-13 three-point shooting clip -- he's attempted just 18 field goals in each of his last two games.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic without Westbrook has been Durant's assist-to-turnover ratio, which doubled from 1.44 to 2.88 before and after Westbrook's most recent injury.