We were shocked when we heard this piece of news out of Thunder media day:
Most interesting thing I learned today: Kevin Durant cannot palm a basketball.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) September 29, 2014
We can imagine the scenario: a photographer asked Durant to palm a ball for a silly media day picture, and he was like "actually I can't do that" and everybody moved on with their day. Sure enough, none of Durant's media day pictures feature the "hold a ball out in front of you as if that is an actual thing basketball players do in games" pose that has become omnipresent at media days:
However, we, like many people, found this hard to believe. How is it possible that Durant, the 6'9 stringbean superstar whose lanky arms seem even longer than your average 6'9 person's arms should be, can't hold a basketball with a single hand?
I remember kids beginning to palm basketballs in high school, and more and more kids figuring it out as we got older. I'm 6'3, and I can palm basketballs on good days. Here's 6'1 Hornets guard Jannero Pargo doing that palming pose we were talking about. How could a larger player whose odd physical dimensions define his game not pass this simple test?
So we investigated.
On the other *hand* (no pun intended,) this photo:
That picture would appear to invalidate any claims Durant can't palm a ball. Look, he's doing it there! In high school! When he was smaller!
But those aren't the balls used in NBA games. It's completely plausible that the person doing a photoshoot of a high school-aged Durant gave him a pair of smaller balls so he could take a cool-looking picture.
If Durant were coming into the league now, we'd be able to simply look at his draft combine measurements, but they weren't measuring hands back in 2007, so we don't have official stats on that. We do have his shoe size -- 16! -- and, uh, people do think feet and hand sizes are linked.
Looking through our photo tool, we can't really find any pictures of Durant palming a ball. There's a bunch of him semi-palming a ball:
Photo credit: Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
But he's not really palming it -- more resting it against his hand.
And although he often dunks with one hand, sometimes thunderously, going to photos reveals he tends to cradle the ball, letting it rest flush against his hand, rather than holding it:
And when we look up close, his hands actually do look a tad too small to palm the ball:
So, can Kevin Durant palm a basketball? Possibly not. There's no real evidence that he can, and it wouldn't be surprising if the deft shooting touch that help make him such a nightmare to defend has something to do with uncharacteristically small hands for his size.
That said, he is 6'10 and an NBA player so maybe he can? Someone should ask him!