Monday, March 4th, 2013 at 1:20 pm  |  59 responses

Kevin Durant Says He Will Fill the Void Left By James Harden

by Marcel Mutoni @ marcel_mutoni

The impact of the OKC Thunder’s stunning trade of James Harden to the Houston Rockets in late October will be felt for years. So far this season, the Thunder have done just fine without Harden, posting the third best overall record in the NBA (and are currently just three games back of the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference standings.)

Most observers expect the absence of James Harden to be felt come Playoff time, when defenses will inevitably tighten up and make things much tougher on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Have no fear, says KD. The Thunder superstar thinks he can single-handedly make up for Harden’s loss.

Per the LA Times:

Could the Thunder be walking a playoff tightrope without the dynamic talent that (Steve) Kerr called “probably its best one-on-one player”? “A lot of people say that,” Durant said. “I don’t want to be arrogant or nothing, but I think I can fill that void. I can put the ball in the basket. That’s what I was born to do. Some nights they need me to do that, some nights we don’t need me to do that. But when the time comes, Coach [Scott Brooks] is going to call my number and I’ve been practicing my whole life to come through. So we’ll see what happens.”

“As we gain experience,” Brooks said, “we’re going to find different ways to score and I think that’s been the natural progression of our group individually and collectively as a team.”

In Houston, James Harden is morphing into a superstar and attempting to lead the Rockets back into the Playoffs (after posting 16.8 points per game for the Thunder last season, while coming off the bench.)

Kevin Durant is confident in his abilities to make up for any of his team’s perceived shortcomings going forward, and he has good reason to feel that way. But to claim that OKC isn’t diminished without the Bearded One, would be folly.

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  • LakeShow

    His improvement rate is unbelievable.
    He will be the undeniable, certified, best player within the next 2 seasons.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    better than Kobe ever was?

  • spit hot fiyah

    mutoni! let your co-wotkers know about these things called paragraphs please

  • http://twitter.com/Jzakoni Sanchez

    his improvement rate is ridiculous. he is a machine

  • http://twitter.com/Jzakoni Sanchez

    i have faith in KD. but damn i miss that okc trio

  • danpowers

    he is way more efficient already. define better

  • RKJ92

    I’m sorry but you can’t actually think he will be better then LeBron James in the next 2 seasons.. that’s just ridiculous, your reaching bigtime with that theory. I can see when LeBron is maybe 32-33 Durant surpassing him but deff not anytime soon.. LeBron is THAT good.

  • LakeShow

    His offensive efficiency is literally 2nd to none EVER this season.
    It’s just dumb IMO to talk about a 24 year old in the same sentence as being “better” than a top 10 All Time player.
    This season, Durant has been more efficient offensively than Kobe has ever been, but it’s not with the same incredible scoring exploits as KB had in some of his best seasons. Even Durant’s best 5 game stretch this season isn’t as good as KB’s.
    He’s incredible, and one of the best ever at scoring already, but we need to let him mature and see how he plays over the next couple seasons. If he maintains over the seasons then, yes, he is better offensively than KB is, or ever was.

  • LakeShow

    He’s already a better shot blocker, scorer, an equal rebounder, and has upped his assists every season.
    It’s more than likely he surpasses him within the next 2 seasons.

  • bike

    You really have to wonder what this team would be like now if Harden had stayed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    let me rephrase then. Is KD better offensively than Kobe ever was?

  • underdog

    I don’t think KD is ever going to be as versatile as LeBron. Is he going to be a better offensive player? I’d say yes. But on the other end of the floor, (you know where the championships are decided) he won’t catch on James too soon.

  • analfissures

    I’d like to think that I’m the biggest Thunder fan that visits this site, but even I have to wholeheartedly disagree with what you just said. Better shot blocker? He’s good, but not as good as LeBron. Equal rebounder? Close, but I give the edge to LeBron. I respect your viewpoint and don’t think you’re too far off, but I don’t see KD catching LeBron in two years.

  • bill

    Yeah, Lebron isn’t also improving on his stats at all this year even though he won MVP last year. He’s totally resting on his laurels, and should easily be done improving in 2 years…when he’s an over the hill 30.

    It’s possible for Durant, but it’s def not “more than likely”..

    Like RKJ92 said “maybe 32-33″

  • timberrr

    Uhhhhh kevin durant BPG. 1.2 Lebrons BPG 0.8 its simple math .. KD is a better shot blocker … lebron is better now . But in two to three years if KD actially gets some damn muscle like lebron has then he will pass him up for sure

  • http://twitter.com/conorklnohara Ó hEaghra

    Is that a joke?

  • LakeShow

    I feel ya. LeBron’s a beast. I prefer KD’s game I suppose.

  • LakeShow

    That’s fair man. Thanks for the input.

  • LakeShow

    They’d be better. We know that, but this move may have given KD and Russ more room to grow.
    You know, they can spread their wings a little more now. Both are having their best seasons to date.

  • LakeShow

    You know what Mark Jackson says. “I’ll take better offense over better defense any day.” Hahah, or something like that…
    Lebron will always be the better 1 on 1 defender, and best playmaker outside of point guards, I believe, but other than that, Durant can surpass him at everything else. Not saying he will, but I think he may.

  • tim

    Lebron is a far superior defender; 8.2 assists> 7.8 assists; the chances of him reaching Lebron’s passing prowess is so highly unlikely it’s not worth discussing. He’s a more efficient scorer than Lebron, but his all around gae will not surpass Lebron’s in two years. For sure it will when Bron is on ythe decline, but right now your preference plays more of a factor in your opinion than reality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    “he will be the UNDENIABLE, certified, best player within 2 season” straight from the horse’s mouth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    So it’s dumb to talk about KD being in the same sentence as Kobe but it’s okay to talk about him being better 2 seasons from now than a guy (just entering his prime) currently in the midst of one of the Top-5 greatest seasons of all-time?

  • z

    He will be. Like you said, he’s 24. He may not be as selfish as Kobe, but he does most of what Kobe brings to the table in a more effcient manner already.

  • LakeShow

    You made no points here.

  • Lorne

    KD won’t get much bigger than he is. Not everyone’s frame can handle the kind of weight Lebron carries. Besides, KD’S game would not be affected in a good way with all of that excess weight anyway. Look at how skinny guys like Kobe perform better when they’re lighter.

  • Lorne

    Lebron is just a huge floor general. He’s a big point guard. KD is a great scorer, bit a floor general he is not. It’s more than just scoring.

  • tim

    That was supposed to be rebounds, not assists.

  • LakeShow

    Why do you have to be a floor general also in order to be the best player in your view?

  • LakeShow

    The Heat have NO rebounders so I still think KD is the better rebounder, just doesn’t get as many opportunities as Bron is why I have them as equal. Peep last years rebound numbers.

  • http://twitter.com/Jzakoni Sanchez

    PLEASE pass along that massage

  • LakeShow

    I think your probably going to be right.

  • LakeShow

    LeBron is not just entering his Prime.
    He’s peaking right now.
    This year is the best LeBron we will ever see. Mark my words. And what a great year he is having…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    You changed your stance after saying that “he will undeniable be the best player within 2 seasons” to “not saying he will but I think he may”.

  • Lorne

    It’s what seperates them more than anything. Durant can work really hard and become almost as good a one on one defender as Lebron. He can get a little bit stronger and rebound as well as Lebron. They’re both efficient as hell, even with Durant taking more shots as the more willing scorer. Durant doesn’t do anything Lebron would never be capable of. On the other hand, the floor general aspect is something not in Durant’s arsenal
    He passes well for his size, but he won’t run a team like Lebron can.

  • LakeShow

    I understand all that, but why does he need to to be a floor general to be better?

  • LakeShow

    Close, but check the context. In my first post, yes I said “He will be the undeniable, certified, best player within the next 2 seasons.” And I stand by that.

    In the other, where you think I contradicted myself where I said “Durant can surpass him at everything else. Not saying he will, but I think he may.”

    I didn’t say he needed to surpass him at all those in order to be better, just that he could, which would help him on the way toward that goal.

  • roscoe

    you’re delusional LakeShow…

    no way kd is the best player in the game.

    this is why he is not…

    kd doesn’t have the mental or leadership side down.

    i have nothing more to say.

  • Goattree

    Lets not forget that Harden absolutely disappeared when it all counted last year, in the NBA Finals. I remember reading something about how he was pouting like a baby post-game because he didn’t play well, but his TEAM WON THE GAME. Apparently D Fish and Perkins called him out on it, and he shut-down mentally for the rest of the season, as a result.

  • Lorne

    When I say separates, I mean that’s why Lebron will remain better until the rest of his game declines. As long as Lebron is a better floor general and a better defender, Durant will not surpass him. The fact that Durant is a whopping .04 better a shot blocker than Lebron gives no inclination that he will be a better defender. Being a better floor general in the next two years is really the only thing he can do to have a shot, and it won’t happen.

  • jessy

    Lebron doesn’t score as much because he has Wade and Bosh. It goes both ways. If Lebron is an inferior scorer even though he plays with more scorers, Durant is an inferior rebounder despite playing with guys who can rebound.

  • z

    He’s also 4 inches taller than kobe. If kd wasnt more efficient than a six-six volume shooter/scorer itd be kinda disappointing. And weren’t you supposed to change screen names, my dude? Basically, as far as refining skills, getting footwork to be impeccable, form on the jumper/fadeaway, etc etc kobe is already top 3 EVER. I genuinely believe disputing that makes you a homer, because you watch kobe’s game and you can see that offensively he’s on another level of refinement from 99.9% of human beings that have ever laced em up. Thing is, kobe fans, that that’s just when ya give old boy the eye test. Examine his stats/efficiency/leadership? He’s still top of the heap but not the best, not nearly.

  • danpowers

    hmmm… i think no former or active player has, had or will have better offensive skills or abilities than kobe has or had when he was at his peak or the way he is still playing. the thing is just, every once in a while there are guys who use their skills more efficient / successful than kobe does and KD is one of them.

    if somebody tells me now about his five rings… i dont think than any of these lakers team wouldve won less rings if you exchanged kobe with KD / Bron / Wade or whoever just didnt come to my mind at their relative age compared to his back then. thats just hypothetically speaking but i am truly convinced. as far as i remember without checking back on his stats he played quite unefficient during his “own” two chips but had great teams behind them. the first three rings: wouldve shaq won any less with any other 20ppg+ perimeter player next to him back then?

  • i_ball

    I agree with you. Durant won’t be the playmaker LeBron is but he doesn’t need to in order to be better than him.
    Apart from that he has already reached LeBron or is really near him in all other parts of his game. KD is a better shooter for sure.
    LeBron can’t really improve over the next 2 seasons maybe slightly and it’s just scary if KD finds more ways to be efficient. Durant is getting there defensively too. Two seasons is a long long time…

  • the.main.z

    Wait, you are seriously arguing that a jumpshooter like KD is more efficient because of his height? The MAJORITY of KD’s points do not come in the paint. He is a better shooter and picks better shots. Peri. Does his height have anything to do with the fact that Kobe isn’t in his league as a free throw shooter? Kobe has better foowork. Happy now? Now what does that mean when Durant can still scpore better, meaning he doesn’t need as many shots. Kobe is not and has never been on Durant’s level as a shooter. How can you even argue that?

  • the.main.z

    My phone sucks when it comes to typing. Smfh

  • z

    Read wat i wrote hoss: i said kobe’s FORM on the jumper is better. Neiver said anything along the line of kob bein more accurate. You make my point for me, genius: kd, a jumpshooter like kob, is more accurate BECAUSE HE’S FOUR INCHES TALLER. Takes smarter shots too. Hater

  • z

    I’m curious where you stand. On kd vs bron

  • http://www.facebook.com/doe.columbus Doe Columbus

    i hope so! Westbrook must make good decisions on the court too

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    People are forgetting that Kevin Martin once averaged 25 points per game on 16 shots. He’s still a more than deadly third option. It’s not like they traded James Harden for nothing. They aren’t the Lakers…

  • Matt

    Totally agree. Kevin Durant, the best scorer in the league in my opinion, is still improving as a scorer AND facilitator. His passes of the pick-and-roll (esp. the pocket passes to the roll or pop man) have become so much more comfortable and routine for KD. I think that’s one of the most overlooked parts of his game. And that’s not to mention Kevin Durant is statistically the best post player in the league on the right block on a very healthy amount of possessions. KD is improving and that’s partly because he has more ‘freedom’ to expand his game. That should be downright scary to all his opponents in the league.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    I meant the Magic.

  • Matt

    meanwhile Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic, and Mo Harkless look like good trade assets/building blocks in the future

  • keyon dooling

    I can’t be the only one sick of this delusional, message-board nerd called “Lakeshow” can I?

  • Matt

    No, the Thunder lineups have not shown that they can keep up their defensive rebounding with KD at power forward. He may be a better shot blocker but he definitely does not have the same understanding of space and defense that Lebron has. You try to qualify your reasoning with the box score; yet, there are so much more aspects to the game than just those stats.

    I believe that KD will improve, maybe not massively, but in significant ways. Maybe we’ll see KD near the kind of passing that Lebron can do (making that extra read and taking the hockey assist / predicting the rotations and hitting roll man at the right moment / etc), maybe we’ll not. I don’t think that KD can ever become the same kind of main ball-handler that Lebron is, however. I do believe that KD will become an even more varied scorer, perhaps evening out his efficiency in the post (currently great on the right block, just “good” on the left one) and/or being utlized in the PNR more often (as both the ball-handler AND the roll man much in the same way Lebron is used as) But then again, I don’t really see how KD can improve scoring-wise apart from some marginal ways.

    I think the biggest strides are to be made defensively. When OKC can have KD at the four w/o dropping off defensively (rebounding as well), I think the rest of the league should give up unless you’re the Heat. By the way, I would not say KD is an equal rebounder to Lebron. Look at the disparity in their TRB% as well as DRB% as well as their respective teams’ small-ball lineups’ rebounding numbers.

  • Drig

    You know one other guy who disappeared in his 2nd Finals appearance and then proceeded to play superbly the next time he showed up there??? What makes you think Harden can’t do the same, esp. after seeing how he’s handled his trade maturely and is leading the Rockets to the POs as a solid upset choice?

  • Drig

    Durant is a more efficient offensive player so far for his career. However, Kobe has shown this season that he can be quite efficient as well if he chose efficiency over scoring. Kobe’s the better offensive player than Durant but takes more risky shots as well.

    Bron and Wade have been in the L for almost a decade right now and we’re comparing them with a 4th year Kobe? There’s no way a team with Wade or Bron would’ve done the same sort of damage along with Shaq if it was a 4th year Wade or Bron.

    Did Wade-Shaq have the same impact as Kobe-Shaq did?? IMO, they did not. But they were still very good though.

    LeBron hasn’t had a consistent jumper till the last season. He still doesn’t prefer taking outside shots. He all but disappeared in his 2nd Finals appearance after 8 years in the L. How the hell does having no range on a team and nobody to take over at the end make the Lakers of the old better?

    The problem with saying that they’d have won 5 titles with the same team is that the teams Kobe played on required Kobe to be a jumpshooter ( look at his play when one of Pau/Dwight sit on the bench ), which is neither’s strength.

    Durant might’ve made it successful though. Of course, all of this is assuming replacing one player with another doesn’t lead to a domino affect.

  • http://twitter.com/Jzakoni Sanchez

    think we all are

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Donte-Machiavelli-Hudson/100000723951750 Donte Machiavelli Hudson

    No you won’t Durant. Not if Westbrook has anything to say about it. & thats why fam won’t win ….