With Russell Westbrook on the bench in street clothes, Kevin Durant has little choice these days but to take on more responsibility on the offensive end. Still, the NBA’s leading scorer thinks he’s putting up too many shots (the OKC Thunder have gone 7-5 without Westbrook this season, and 5-4 since his latest knee surgery on Dec. 27). Per the Oklahoman:
“I’m not doing enough to help them,” Durant said of his teammates. “I’m shooting too much. I’m shooting too many 3s. I’m not helping them out at all. So it’s not on them.”
Durant averaged 18 shots with Westbrook in the lineup. He’s averaging 20.2 shots in 12 games without Westbrook and 22.1 in the past nine.
“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 unveiled his new approach Saturday against Milwaukee. He turned down multiple good shots, especially in the first half, to get his teammates better shots. It wasn’t always pretty, and his decisions at times led to hesitation, over thinking and over passing. But ultimately, it worked. Of course, it helped that his teammates made shots, something they’ve struggled to do even when Durant has set them up. In the last nine games, Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Thabo Sefolosha, Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins — five players that make up more than a third of the Thunder’s offense — are all shooting below 42 percent.
Durant, meanwhile, has been blazing, with averages of 31.8 points, 11 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 45.6 percent over that same span.