With his size, shooting ability, and skill, Kevin Durant has become one of the most terrifying scorers in league history. He’s a reliable bucket-getter who makes it look so easy no matter who’s guarding him.
Being an isolation scorer in the NBA nowadays is difficult. Long gone are the midrange chuckers of the 2000’s, who would score in high volume but low efficiency. To make isolation plays efficient, an NBA player must be truly elite at hitting difficult shots to make it work.
Kevin Durant is absolutely an elite midrange scorer. As his career has gone on, he’s narrowed his shot selection to this area, despite others neglecting shots from there. His ability to score over shorter players and shake off slower bigs for unguardable jumpers is basically unparalleled.
But his prowess isn’t perfect. He’s not all that great dealing with double teams, especially with his back to the basket, which the Houston Rockets demonstrated in last year’s Western Conference Playoffs. It also disrupts some of the Warriors’ offensive flow.
Moreover, his scoring efficiency lags behind that of Stephen Curry, and the marks set by James Harden and Chris Paul last year. The reason? Durant doesn’t shoot nearly as many threes as he should.
I wrote earlier this year about the Warriors needing to shoot more threes as a team, so Durant is not alone in this regard. But given his skillset and ridiculous scoring ability, adding more threes to his offense shouldn’t be too much to ask for.
Last year, James Harden and Chris Paul proved that shooting threes at high volume is a key to their isolation efficiency. They only shot 36.7% and 38.0% from three respectively, but their high volume exploited the fact that 3 > 2 better than any team in league history. For both, almost half of their field goal attempts were threes.
More than half of Stephen Curry’s field goal attempts have been from three in each of the last four years, and he’s put up earth-shattering numbers in each of them. Even the threat of him pulling up from deep opens up the rest of the offense for his teammates.
Meanwhile, only 33.8% of Durant’s shots were threes last year, and 19.9% this year. He shot 41.9% from three last year and 38.3% for his career, so he’s more than capable of shooting more from three.
Starting his offense from outside the arc will give the Warriors better spacing and put Durant in a position to see the court better. It’ll increase the team’s pace and mesh better with Curry’s style of play. Everybody knows Durant can get off a shot on anybody with this height advantage. He just has to step a few feet back and try it out.
In the past couple games, Durant has upped his overall volume of threes, but he simply hasn’t made them. I’m more interested in seeing whether he can increase his volume of threes while playing alongside Steph. Furthermore, I’m sure his shooting slump won’t stay. When he’s confident in his long range shots, he needs to hunt threes a little like Curry does. A lower three-point percentage on more attempts doesn’t seem like much of a benefit until you realize how much three points is greater than two.
Changing this part of Durant’s offense will help him score more efficiently and integrate him more within the Warriors’ style. It might be needed in the playoffs.