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The Golden Wonder: Kevin Durant’s efficiency is a sight to behold

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In light of the most efficient scoring performance of his career, Durant is still the victim of a few misconceptions pertaining to his scoring ability. Let’s address those, shall we?

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

All this talk of putting Kevin Durant in a box — first mentioned after the Warriors’ win over the Detroit Pistons this past Sunday — has incited a small, mini-discussion among a certain segment of fans as to what Durant does too much or doesn’t do enough of. In the span of about 3 days or so, Durant — the beacon of efficiency and, all things considered, one of the few scorers in the history of the league who rarely lets his scoring mentality become a detriment to his team — has been described as things he simply just isn’t.

For the sake of common decency, let’s not call out by name those who said such inaccuracies about Durant. We will, however, bring to light the words with which Durant was described as.

Kevin Durant has given himself permission to play inefficient basketball. Volume shooting.”

Did we all wake up in Bizarro World? An alternate timeline where Durant wantonly throws up shots and builds houses with the striking efficiency of that shooting guard who used to ply his trade in Staples Center? Or with that scorer of a bygone era who is often described as one of the best scorers of all time, yet has never gone past the first round of the playoffs? Or even with that of the former anointed “savior” of New York whose fall from superstardom was as rapid as his descent from basketball relevance?

Our resident historian, statistician, and defender of the truth, Sleepy Freud, gave us the honor of providing some simple numbers that would debunk the extremely far-fetched notion that Durant plays inefficient basketball.

Durant’s true shooting % over the last eight seasons: .610, .647, .635, .633, .634, .651, .640, .624 By way of comparison, Michael Jordan’s career TS% is .569. Kobe Bryant’s is .550.

For those who do not know or understand what TS% is, it stands for true-shooting percentage, which is a measure of overall shooting efficiency. It takes into account overall field goals, three-point field goals, and free throws. In short, the higher your TS% is, the more proficient and efficient you are at scoring and shooting.

For reference, Stephen Curry’s TS% during his unanimous MVP season was 66.9 percent, which is already considered god-like. Since the 2013-14 season, Curry’s TS% has never dipped below 61.0 percent, which is made even more insane by the fact that Curry is a volume three-point shooter who maintains an exceptional three-point shooting percentage despite that fact.

Durant, on the other hand, is by no means a volume shooter — he doesn’t even lead the team in terms of field-goal attempts, with his 18.4 attempts per game being second to Curry’s 19.9, per NBA.com/stats.

Beyond the raw numbers, volume shooting is accompanied by the notion of throwing away the concept of the “hot hand” by shooting yourself out of a bad shooting performance, which can often hamper the team to the point of them losing a game. Volume shooters can win games, yes — but they can also single-handedly be the cause for defeats.

Durant simply does not operate that way. Will he have times where he tries to shoot himself out of a slump? Yes, but he does so while trying to be efficient — he will exploit mismatches; he will get to his preferred spots, which is often in the mid-range area and/or the low post; and he will ramp up his aggression and drives toward the rim to draw fouls and knock down free throws.

Which is exactly what he did against the Memphis Grizzlies last night. By scoring 28 points on a 12-of-13 shooting clip (92.3 percent), he had his most efficient shooting game of his career, which beat out his previous career-high in efficiency of 8-of-9 from the field (88.9 percent).

If that has yet to sink in, then let me repeat it for you through a series of Tweets from other credible media heads.

This performance from Durant is a microcosm of how he has approached scoring throughout his entire career — picking his spots, not forcing the issue, and being aggressive to force the defense to play right into his hands.

I didn’t see any instance of forced shots above, nor did I see Durant succumb to tunnel vision. In fact, whenever possible, he made the decision to pass the ball around to keep the motion offense sharp and clicking, and he was able to garner five assists from it, which isn’t too shabby at all. His improvement as a point forward this season has been well documented, with his assists average of 5.7 per game being on track to be a career-high.

No, Durant isn’t a volume shooter. But what he did on just 13 shots against the Grizzlies — as well as many other instances of scoring efficiency in the past — makes one wonder what he can do if he decided to take 25 or even 30 shots.

With that breakdown out of the way, the time has come to vote for who is the “Golden Wonder” for this game. Here at Golden State of Mind, we value our readers’ opinions, and we like to give them choices as to who they thought was the best player on the floor for a given game.

So without further ado, here are your choices for the Golden Wonder of the Warriors’ victory over the Grizzlies.

Poll

Who is your Golden Wonder for the win against Memphis?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Kevin Durant
    (91 votes)
  • 8%
    Wanda Durant’s eldest son
    (17 votes)
  • 8%
    The former league MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 4x scoring champion, and 2x NBA Champion
    (17 votes)
  • 21%
    The Slim Reaper
    (41 votes)
  • 12%
    The future New York Kni- *gets tackled by Thomas Bevilacqua*
    (24 votes)
190 votes total Vote Now

But in all seriousness, we do still want to give you guys a choice. So here’s the real poll for who you think the Warrior Wonder was against the Grizzlies.

  • Curry is, by all means, a good and reasonable choice — he finished with 28 points on 6-of-12 shooting from three-point range. Overall, he was 7-of-20, with some of those missed shots being layups that he would normally make. He has found it hard to finish at the rim lately, but he still finds other ways to produce, including — to nobody’s surprise — shooting the three-ball well.
  • DeMarcus Cousins finished with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. He did reasonably well against Jonas Valanciunas, who got into foul trouble throughout the game as a result of having to deal with Cousins’ physicality all night long. An overall balanced performance from the big man.
  • Draymond Green scored only six points, but made up for it in other Draymond-esque ways — seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two blocks. He did have four turnovers, but credit must be given to the Grizzlies’ lengthy defenders for narrowing passing lanes and deflecting what seemed like every pass the Warriors tried to make. Green was still able to do his thing, however, and his presence on both ends of the floor made a significant impact nonetheless.

Poll

Who is your Warrior Wonder for the win against Memphis?

This poll is closed

  • 89%
    Kevin Durant
    (172 votes)
  • 5%
    Stephen Curry
    (10 votes)
  • 4%
    DeMarcus Cousins
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    Draymond Green
    (3 votes)
193 votes total Vote Now

Seventy-four down, 8 more to go.

Stay Golden, Dub Nation.