Durant Watch Part II

Kevin Durant continues to set himself apart from the other frosh with one hell of a game December 21 against the Bucks, leading all scorers with 27 points, aided by a four-of-five night from the arc. The only blemish was his five giveaways, but after the Sonics 123-115 victory, no one was talking about KD’s turnovers. Midthird, Seattle down by six, and the 19-year-old facials seven-foot Rasho Nesterovic:

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Rasho. That is, if you have a pipe. And you smoke.

KD’s monthly shooting percentage dropped from 43% in November to a December mark of 36%, raising some doubt with the number junkies. What quells this uncertainty – besides posterizing Slavs – is his posting two 35-point games, Pacers then Bucks, within seven days of one another. Inside the numbers: Breaking down Durant’s total offensive production for the Sonics, we found he manages 20% of the teams total points. Quite a feat for anyone on a 15-man roster, but even more impressive for a rook who can’t drink unless he plays in Toronto. So we broke down the rest of the league’s team leaders, charting their production in relation to KD and found … nothing. Well, nothing of terrible importance. See for yourself, in order of rankings:

Team Record – Player – Offensive Production*


Boston 20-3 Paul Pierce 20.5 %

Toronto 15-12 Chris Bosh 16 %

New Jersey 11-15 Richard Jefferson 27.3 %

Philadelphia 10-15 Andre Iguodala 19.3 %

New York 8-17 Jamal Crawford 19.6 %


Detroit 18-7 Chauncey Billups 17.1 %

Indianapolis 14-12 Mike Dunleavy 16.7 %

Cleveland 12-15 LeBron James 25.1%

Milwaukee 10-15 Michael Redd 20 %

Chicago 9-14 Ben Gordon 19%


Orlando 18-9 Dwight Howard 22.7%

Atlanta 13-11 Joe Johnson 23 %

Washington 13-12 Caron Butler 22.2%

Charlotte 9-14 Gerald Wallace 19.5%

Miami 7-19 Dwayne Wade 19%


Denver 15-10 Allen Iverson 24.7%

Portland 14-12 Brandon Roy 20.1%

Utah 14-13 Carlos Boozer 23.2%

Seattle 7-19 Kevin Durant 20%

Minnesota 3-21 Al Jefferson 22%


Phoenix 18-8 Amare Stoudemire 16.8%

LA Lakers 15-10 Kobe Bryant 25%

Golden State 15-11 Baron Davis 20%

Sacramento 11-14 Kevin Marin 16.9%

LA Clippers 9-15 Chris Kaman 16.9%


San Antonio 18-7 Manu Ginobli 20%

Dallas 18-9 Dirk Nowitzki 21.1%

New Orleans 16-10 Chris Paul 20.2%

Houston 12-14 Yao Ming 23.1%

Memphis 8-17 Rudy Guy 19%

*all stats as of 12/20

KD is tied for 14th – out of 30 teams. So that discovery seemed a bust. One upside was that his name is mentioned alongside such other athletes as Kobe, D-Wade, and Paul Pierce. But yet again, what does this mean? It doesn’t appear that a lesser offensive producer — thereby a more balanced team attack — is more effective. The league leader is Richard Jefferson, scoring just over a quarter of all the Nets points. But they’re third in the Atlantic and ninth overall in the East. Everyone’s favorite French-Canadian, Steve Nash, only contributes 16% of the Suns points, but they’re the fifth best team in the entire NBA. There seems no logic behind it; teams with one power-scorer succeed and fail all around the league, and similarly teams with level scoring sit both atop the standings an in the basement.

Where this stat shines in Durant’s favor is when juxtaposed with the rest of this rookie class. No other rookie shoulders as much responsibility. J.C. Navarro (10.5%), Yi Jianlin (10.1%), and Al "Headhunter" Horford (9%) are about half the production rate. So KD’s still on track to a landslide ROY victory. Great. Grand. Wonderful. We figured as much. Now take these results and pit them against the prior 25 ROYs. Then something grows wildly apparent: Durant’s with some damn fine company. You have to go back to ‘03’s LeBron James to find a better offensive producer (21.7%), and four years prior to that we find Elton Brand (23.4), Vince Carter (20), and Tim Duncan (22.8) putting up bigger stats. But then it slides off. Sure we have an Admiral (22.9) here, an M.J. (25.9) there, but all in all only seven other rookie award winners have put up a better offensive percentage. KD isn’t just important to the 2008 Sonics, he's well on his way to becoming one of the best rookie workhorses in the last quarter century.

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