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Warrior Wonder: Kevin Durant's evolving passing ability

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The Waarriors took a somewhat predictable loss in Denver with a poor shooting night, but Durant's passing stood out.

Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Last week, Daniel O'Brien of FanRag Sports wrote up a detailed piece about Kevin Durant's versatility as a passer and lays out some numbers to establish that he's having a career-year as a facilitator.

In short, no matter how you measure it, Durant is creating assists at a higher rate than ever this year.

But what really stood out about O'Brien's piece was this segment about how Durant is creating those assists, especially in transition.

He has become masterful at exploiting opponents’ mistakes and setting up his sweet-shooting teammates...Whether he’s catching the ball while loping up the court or pushing the ball off the dribble, he has a knack for fluidly finding open teammates in transition.

Golden State is always hunting for quick buckets before opposing defenses get set. Durant is one of Kerr’s best assets in this venture; he sniffs out when defenses are complacent, and he’s adept at setting up the Splash Brothers.

In the Warriors' loss to the Nuggets last night, that ability was on full display as he racked up six of his seven assists in the first half before he had to turn it up as a scorer as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson went cold in the second quarter. Just in those six first half assists, you see Durant's ability to squeeze pinpoint passes through tight spaces through — and around -- opposing players on the move.

What makes Durant such a lethal threat is his developing versatility beyond scoring, especially since joining the Warriors. Part of that is certainly about scheme — I'm not sure you could even call what was going on in Oklahoma City a "scheme" — but part of it is playing on a team of stars that play unselfish ball and are just looking for opportunities to facilitate scoring for others. On a cold shooting night, Durant also had another 11 potential assists, according to NBA.com/stats.

There's more to dig into around this topic of Durant's career-high in assist rates — What about his turnovers? Are assists even a valuable stat to measure anything? — but on a very basic level, we're witnessing the evolution of one of the greatest scorers in NBA history into one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in league history.

These last three games have been tough to watch -- they really should've won last night, they probably should've lose that game in Sacramento on Friday night, and they got blown out by the Utah Jazz prior to that — but there's still room to appreciate what we get to witness on a game-to-game basis.

Poll

Who was the Warrior Wonder for the loss in Denver?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Steph Curry
    (43 votes)
  • 5%
    Klay Thompson
    (16 votes)
  • 50%
    Kevin Durant
    (161 votes)
  • 3%
    Draymond Green
    (10 votes)
  • 8%
    Zaza Pachulia
    (28 votes)
  • 0%
    Shaun Livingston
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Andre Iguodala
    (3 votes)
  • 5%
    Kevon Looney
    (16 votes)
  • 3%
    JaVale McGee
    (10 votes)
  • 3%
    Nick Young
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    Patrick McCaw
    (4 votes)
  • 4%
    Damian Jones
    (14 votes)
318 votes total Vote Now