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How Durant compares with the A-listers

How Durant compares with the A-listers

So what do you do when you are home sick on the couch nestled by the fireplace on a spectacularly beautiful Pacific Northwest Saturday morning? I guess if you’re like me (and hopefully your not—sick that is) you start churning through hoop  stats and see what shakes loose.

I thought I would look at where our newest All-Star rates among his peers in various statistical categories. Now that KD is having the kind of season that we all knew he was capable of, his true “peers” have become a very elite and small group of ballers. For this article I wanted to truly narrow down who I compared him with to give a really fair snapshot of Kevin Durant’s greatness on the court. It makes no sense to compare him with Dwight Howard, who indeed is a peer, but has a totally different kind of game. Likewise to compare KD to Steve Nash also would be superfluous.  No, I want to compare KD to the guys who’s game is somewhat similar to his. I am looking for guys who are wings, yet have that sort of inside/outside game. Guys that bomb away, yet get into the paint. Guys that will do a little bit of everything well, and are either THE LEADER on their team or at least nearly so.

So my criteria is that above, but also that they a) have appeared in 40 games or more b) play nightly minutes of 32 minutes or more  c) have a PER of at least 17 (well above league average) and have a usage % of at least 20. You get a high usage % by using possessions, either shooting, assisting others or turning the ball over-essentially ending a possession one way or another.  The list of players that qualify is 42, but few of them are useful for my purposes. I will undoubtedly throw in a few names for context or when something interesting stands out.

With that said, how does KD compare with the best of the best in the NBA today along a variety of statistical measures:

  • Kevin Durant shoots a lot right? Within the established criteria, here are his peers ranked by Field Goals attempted per game:  Kobe 22.4, Carmelo 21.6, Durant 20.4, LeBron 20.1, Wade  19.8, Dirk 18.6. Surprisingly Derrick Rose checks in here on the list at #8 with 17.6 FGA’s per game.–So Durant shoots less than Kobe and Carmelo and about the same as LeBron.
  • Does KD jack up a lot of threes compared to his peers? LeBron 5.2 3fgas per game, Joe Johnson 4.7, Kobe 4.2, Paul Pierce 4, Durant 3.9, Brandon Roy 3.8. His three % is up from the beginning of the year, but he doesn’t really force it.
  • Rebounds per game: Dirk 7.7, Durant 7.5, LeBron 7.1, Beasley 6.8, Carmelo 6.4.
  • Total Rebound rate (a better indicator of rebounding–the percentage of available rebounds gathered by a player): Beasley 12.8%, Dirk 11.8, LeBron 10.9, Durant 10.7, Carmelo 9.9.
  • Personal fouls committed per game: Carmelo 3.4, Beasley 2.9, Nowitzki 2.6, Kobe 2.5, Westbrook 2.5, Durant 2.2.
  • Assists/game: LeBron 8.3 (that’s really just incredible), Westbrook 7.5, Wade 6.4, B-Roy 4.8, Kobe 4.6, Carmelo 3.4, Durant 2.9, Dirk 2.4. I really expect this  number to go up as KD becomes a more polished, established star in the league.
  • Turnover percentage: Westbrook 16%, Tyreke Evans 13.4%, Durant 13.1%, LeBron 12.8, Wade 11.9, Carmelo 10.8, Kobe 10.4, Beasley 9.8, Dirk 7.2%.  Definitely an Achilles heel for the Thunder.
  • And1’s (the number of times per game the player scores and gets fouled): LeBron 1.11 (tops in the league), Bosh 1.0, Carmelo .88, Wade .77, Durant .71, Kobe .69, Dirk .53
  • FTA/FGA (free throw attempts per field goal attempt): LeBron .51, Pierce .51, Durant .49, Wade .44, Dirk .40, Westbrook .37, Kobe .32.

So there’s that. And as we know KD is an elite level scorer, but how does he get his points as compared to his peers? Where does he shoot from?’

  • Shots per game at the rim: Tyreke Evans leads the pack here with a ridiculous 8.8 FGA’s per game at the rim, and he hits them at 59%; Wade 6.9-65%, Lebron 6.6-74%, Westbrook 5.5-51.4%, Durant 5.2-72%, Kobe 5.1-57.5%.  Notice the two “longer armed guys” are better finishers.
  • Shots per game from <10 feet: Joe Johnson 3.5-51%, Kobe 2.4-46.3%, Wade 1.9-47.5%, Durant 1.8-38%, Tyreke 1.8-30.6%, Jeff Green (doesn’t meet all the criteria but I thought “what the hay?”) 1.6-47.6%, Dirk 1.3-42.2%, LeBron 1.1-39%.
  • Shots per game 10-15 feet (short midrange): #’s 1, 2 and 3 are Kobe 4.4-50%, Dirk 4.2-43.7% and Durant 3.5-46%, Westbrook 2.0-32.7%, Wade 1.9-35%, LeBron 1.1-39%.
  • Shots per game 16-23 feet (long midrange): Dirk 8.3-48%–that’s really amazing that he can shoot that long two from the deep elbow all day at that kind of percentage against NBA defense; Kobe 6.1-43%, Wade 6.0-39%, Durant 5.8-39%, LeBron 5.4-40%, Brandon Roy 5.2-45%.
  • Points per shot: Pierce 1.51, LeBron 1.49, Durant 1.46, Carmelo 1.36, Roy 1.36, Dirk 1.33, Wade 1.32.

I could have went on for days with this kind of stuff but I have blurred vision as it is. I think looking at the numbers it’s fair to say that offensively Kevin Durant is a top three player; you decide who the other one is beside him and LeBron. Kevin is probably the #2 most deadly scorer in the league. LeBron has more points per shot, but he shoots almost twice as many threes as Durant yet with a 2.4% percentage deficit. LeBron doesn’t get to the paint as much as Durant, but he still gets to the line slightly more than KD – a testament to LeBron’s scary skills and ability to draw fouls on the perimeter. Durant and LeBron are similar in rebounding totals and percentages, but LeBron separates himself with the crazy assist numbers while Durant needs help cutting down on his turns.

I would have to say on second look, that really it’s pretty clear cut from the numbers that LeBron and Durant are the cream of the crop offensively (based on these numbers), and the guys like Dirk, Carmelo and Kobe are a half of a notch below them. Knowing what I know about KD and the King you can’t say that either one of them aren’t really excellent defenders as well. The importance of each to their team is unquestioned. I guess the things the last thing to look at some other day will be the clutch value of each A-lister to their team. Durant hasn’t really shined in that area a lot, but the King and Kobe and Carmelo seem to have balls of steel in crunch time.

You decide.