2 min read

John Hollinger on Kevin Durant (and others)

ESPN’s smart guy, John Hollinger, released his 2009-10 player ratings for the season today. He had something to say about every Thunder player, but his comments on Kevin Durant are what most folks are talking about. He said (Insider):

Durant projects to lead the league in points per 40 minutes and to log one of the league’s largest PER increases, a sentiment that most observers would echo based on how he performed in the second half of the season.
The fact he will score is unquestioned; it’s his development in the other phases of the game that will define how high his star ascends. Durant exhilarated observers with his scoring ability last season, but his inability to pass or defend didn’t translate into superstar production. If Oklahoma City is going to turn the corner, it has to start with its marquee player becoming more well-rounded.

Wow. Projects to lead the league in scoring per 40 minutes. Last year, KD averaged 25.6 per 40 minutes (which is basically his average). This year he’s got him at 30.6 points per 40. He’s got his numbers at 49.2 percent from the field, 87.5 from the line and true shooting at 59.2. Rebounds per 40 basically the same, assists about the same (2.8 to 3.1), his usage up to 29.1 and his PER going from 20.85 to 23.50. And as we’ve all said all year long, the second KD rounds out his game (he’s just 21!!!), the second he jumps out of this world.

One thing about Hollinger’s predictions though is that he has Russell Westbrook’s PER falling to 14.84 (down from 15.20). Jeff Green’s is only slightly up. Every Thunder player besides KD is under 15, which in turn is under the league average. That type of stuff can make you scratch your head but as reader Dylan so perfectly put it:

I think sometimes there’s a disconnect between what Hollinger thinks will happen and the numbers he attaches to these articles. These projections are based on a formula he has. I noticed his projections have Russ shooting a lower percentage from the field this year than he did last year. Obviously that would be incredibly disappointing, but I don’t think Hollinger really thinks Westbrook is going to shoot 38%, but that’s what the formula said. If it’s anything like baseball sabremetrics, it’s harder to project what young players will do, because there’s less data to base it on.

Yep, pretty much. It’s hard to predict things for a team like OKC where the average age for the starting five is 24. Players are going to naturally progress and it’s hard to calculate that in a formula. So keep it all in perspective.