Thursday, July 26

Predicting Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant of the Seattle Supersonics.With the pre-season still far off in the future, and with not much else on the go, I thought I’d start taking a look at what we can expect from the Sonics this year. Naturally, the first guy on the docket is Kevin Durant. Heck, who else did you expect me to write about, Zabian Dowdell? (Okay, I admit it, I considered Little Z first, but that would have been going too far).

Durant is a tough guy to predict – he’s as tall as most power forwards, but he’s got the ability to play shooting guard. He can dunk, shoot 3’s, rebound (allegedly), and run the break with equal aplomb. He’s also 19 and as is so thin he looks like he could squeeze through the bars of a jail cell without too much difficulty. Can he withstand the banging and pounding that is (less so now, but still) so commonplace in the NBA?

The other problem with predicting Durant is that he has no obvious comparisons. Carmelo Anthony is similar, but not really. Dirk Nowitzki is one possibility, but Dirk was a European who no experience in North America his rookie season, and a teenager to boot. LeBron is another option, but he spent no time in college, and their bodies are completely different.

With that in mind, here are the 3 most-recent superstars to emerge from the draft, and how they did their rookie seasons as compared to their freshman years in college (with the obvious exception of LBJ:

Carmelo Anthony:
Freshman Year: 45%, 33%, 22 ppg, 10 rpg, 36 mpg
Rookie Year: 43%, 32%, 21 ppg, 6 rpg, 36 mpg

Dwyane Wade:
Freshman Year: 49%, 35%, 17.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 32 mpg
Rookie Year: 47%, 30%, 16.2 ppg, 4 rpg, 35 mpg

LeBron James:
Rookie Year: 42%, 29%, 21 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 40 mpg

Kevin Durant:
Freshman Year: 47%, 40%, 26 ppg, 11 rpg, 36 mpg

(The percentages are FG and 3FG, respectively)

Once again, Durant defies comparison. His numbers are better across the board compared to those guys. You might be surprised – as I was – to see how similar Wade and Anthony were in their rookie years to their freshman seasons. Naturally, I don’t expect Durant to put up a 26-11 this season (especially since he won’t have a 20’ 3-pointer as an option this year), but considering that both Wade and Anthony played at about 90% of their levels their rookie seasons, is it that unreasonable to expect Durant to put up about 22-7 this year? I don’t think so.

Plus, if Durant stays at the 2-guard this year, as many expect, he’s going to come close to matching his block totals from Texas (2 per game) just from the simple reason of guarding much smaller players.

I think it’s safe to say that the Sonics will be looking not only at someone who will be the odds-on favorite to be Rookie of the Year, but someone who could very well contend for a spot on the All-Star Team this year. That last claim might be overly optimistic, but I’d certainly say there’s a 50% chance he does it. First, he has no competition on his team when it comes to shot attempts, and, second, his college numbers were so good you have to expect him to register something pretty impressive this year.

Now, about that 185-pound bench press ...


Anonymous said...

I think it is worth briefly mentioning Bargnani. Durant will take more shots but the rest of the stat lines might prove similar.

Anonymous said...

Free throws will also be an exception and steals too so ok the comparison has limited value but Durant 4 rebs 1 assist, moderate turnovers, eventually good from 3 and good FT% from start and average to below average opponent points allowed, those probably will be close.

Anonymous said...

Looks like there are about 20 guys 6'8 to 6'9 in the league who averaged 10 pts last season. On body type Durant reminds most of Tayshaun Prince. But a more aggressive version, with a bigger role.
Anthony isnt bad but isnt perfect either. 230 pounds with strength and pretty big hops. Durant isnt quite that.

Anonymous said...

Make it 30 guys.Gay, Warrick and G Green are other names to consider. M Williams, Childress, M Dunleavy, Morrison also out there...

Anonymous said...

And Anthony doesn't have Durant's touch from outside, either. And he's not as fast. And none of those other guys mentioned won college player of the year their freshman seasons, or averaged close to 30 points and 11 boards their freshman years. As the real stat guys would say, Durant is an outlier.

Everyone is unique, even guys that seem similar on the surface. It's just that Durant so completely unique it's hard to get a handle on what he'll give the Sonics this year. My only concern is his lack of strength, and not just the bench press. He's so dang thin that I wonder if he'll wear down as the year goes on.

Anonymous said...

Durant will definitely light it up, definitely go for 20+ per, but I don't really see that as translating into W's this first season, as the team needs time to bring the inexperienced guys along and find a chemistry.

28 wins this season, then you get likely a Top 3 pick, then 40 wins the next season, and perennial playoffs after that.

Unknown said...

I think that with Durants popularity, its very possible for him to be voted onto the AllStar team.
I think 21ppg and 6-7rpg sounds about right. Pretty much Rashards numbers.

Anonymous said...

But it'll be so much prettier when he puts up those numbers than it was when Ra did it. And he'll get some blocks.

Anonymous said...

And what the Sonics pay him in one season is what the Magic will be paying Rashard for two months' worth of work.

Anonymous said...

And Durantula is gonna sell out every arena this year.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about all that. I think Durant will be popular, but he's not on a level with LeBron yet. LeBron was more popular and he was coming from high school, so he had extra excitement. I could be wrong if Durant starts showing up on ESPN highlights with huge regularity, but he's not on the level with Iverson, LBJ, or Kobe yet.

Of course, he's still not even old enough to drink, so it's not like that's a bad thing. Rashard Lewis was here for 10 years and half the country wouldn't recognize him if he bumped into them in the street wearing a full Sonics jersey and a sign that said "I play small forward for the Sonics on his chest."

Anonymous said...

I really don't like any of those comparisons.

First off, Carmelo Anthony played in the Big East, and not only that, he won the National Title! I know the Big 12 isn't a joke conference, but the Big East is by far superior. Plus, Anthony's body was a lot better than Durant's is at this point.

Think about Dwayne Wade. He had all those years of college experience before his rookie campaign.

And LeBron, well, he is on a whole different level.

You can compare him to three of the biggest names in the NBA, and say he will do better than them as rookies. Sure. But you can also pick out a bunch of top five picks that were expected to be stars and were awful.

Also, a lot of young players come into this league and have to develop for a year, two, or three.

I'm not trying to say that Durant is going to be a bust, as I think he will be a perennial All-Star and play many, many years in the league. But comparing him to the some of the NBA's best and saying he will be better right away, is almost laughable. Let the kid play.

My prediction: 18-20 PPG, 40-42% FG, 5-6 RPG

Anonymous said...

If the Sonics do not make a trade for a veteran scorer (especially at Durant's position) and if Coach Carlisimo makes Durant the #1 scoring option (which seems likely), then Durant has the talent and opportunity to become the highest scoring rookie in memory.

I predict 26 ppg, but poor shooting (low 40's in %) and only 3-4 rebounds (he is playing guard, not forward) are reasonable numbers. However, let's be realistic. Anything close to 20 ppg would be great for a rookie.

Anonymous said...

D-Wade only played 2 years of college before he came to the pros; I don't think one extra year of college makes that much of a difference. However, he did sit out his freshman year, so he was a bit older than KD when he reached the pros. On the other hand, he played in the Conference USA, which isn't as great of competition as Big East, either.

I agree with the argument that Anthony's definitely stronger. In fact, you could say all 3 of those guys were/are stronger than Kevin Durant, at least so far. I still think he's going to average 20 ppg this year, though.

Paul said...

I'm so sick of this emphasis on strength. Are you telling me Ray Allen could bench 185? Or George Gervin?

Unless you're a center, who cares how much you can bench--all I care about is if you can put the ball in the hole.

I think in a few years, this whole argument will be moot--and laughable!

Anonymous said...

amen to that bother... and he is on the level of the superstars he scored 22 points on Melo and LJ on blue vs. white team usa he can play on the level of the elite its just a matter of wheather he will ajust to the nba atmosphere and my bet is that he will i bet if potland this much of KD at draft time they would have picked him

Elliott said...

Actually given what we know about Allen's crazy off-season training regimen, it is entirely likely that he can bench 185.

Unknown said...

I also agree the comparisons are pretty much nill... I think the only comparisons are players in his body type: Nowitski, Garnett...
And I think he'll be a much better scorer right away... The only question is whether his body will mature into the PF type, or if he's going to stay a hybrid SG/SF, which wouldn't be soo bad.
I also think that his rebounding will be better than most of us think...

Anonymous said...

"if Coach Carlisimo makes Durant the #1 scoring option (which seems likely), then Durant has the talent and opportunity to become the highest scoring rookie in memory"

(Rookie Year Stats)

28.2 PPG
6.5 RPG
5.9 APG
2.39 SPG

.515 FG%
.845 FT%

...remember this guy?

(he probably would turn the Sonics into a Playoff team next year. Durant...? naaa! - don't get me wrong, I think he'll be great... Probably ROY... but we'll still suck...)


Lebron can't guard a chair, Dirk is even worse and Carmelo... well, he's a loser. And, plus, they don't look/sound/play smart, either. So... I hope Durant doesn't turn as any of them...

Anonymous said...

I recall reading that Carmello couldn't bench 185 coming out of college.
How is it even possible that a professional athlete can't bench 200 lbs? My guess is that these guys haven't ever been in the weight room, and are unfamiliar with the technique/motion. I bet a week in the weight room, and they'd figure it out.

I like the McGrady comparison. Similar players. I'd say he's a McGrady with a hint of Nowitzki (taller, better shooter, but maybe not quite as athletic).
20ppg would be great, but as with any player that's reliant on his outside shot, I can imagine a bunch of 6 for 20 shooting nights... The good thing is, from the little action we've seen of him, he seems to be able to get to the line...

Mr. Chriss said...

Dang... and here I thought this was one of the safe sites I could go to at work. Thank you AK for changing that up...

Anywho - I think we're in for a fun year with Durant as the #1 option.

Put me in for durant at 25 pts, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1 steal.

mcwalter44 said...

I hate to rain on the Durant will be the greatest rookie of all-time parade, but I have to contend that he'll see a lot of physical defense against him, as well as double teams (if he is truly the Sonics #1 scoring option). I think these two factors will be an adjusting process for him. Now don' t get wrong, I think Durant is going to be a very special player in this league, however, I do not think he's going to walk into this league (especially playing for a team in the Western Conference and dominate right away).

Before the draft Dime magazine ran an article in reaction to all the hype that Oden and Durant were getting in regards to the best NBA rookie season over the last 30 years.

I'll sumurize the list just a bit:
1) Allen Iverson, Sixers (’96-97) - 23.5 ppg, 7.5 ast and 2 stl
2) Terry Cummings, Clippers (’82-83) - 23.7 ppg, 10.6 reb1.8 stl
3) David Robinson, Spurs (’89-90) - 24.3 ppg, 12 rebs, 3.8 blk and 1.6 stl
4) Tim Duncan, Spurs (’97-98) - 21 ppg, 11 rebs and 2.5 blk
5) Magic Johnson, Lakers (’79-80) - 18 ppg, 7.7 rebs, 7.3 ast
6) Larry Bird, Celtics (’79-80) - 21.3 ppg, 10.4 rebs, 4.5 ast and 1.7 stl
7) Vince Carter, Raptors (’99) - 18.3 ppg, 5.7 rebs
8) Damon Stoudamire, Raptors (’95-96) - 19 pgg and 9.3 ast
9) Mark Jackson, Knicks (’87-88) - 13.6 ppg, 10.6 ast and 2.5 stl
10) Ralph Sampson, Rockets (’83-84) - 21 ppg, 11.1 rebs and 2.4 blk
11) Michael Jordan, Bulls (’84-85) - 28 ppg 6.5 rebs, 5.9 ast and 2.3 stl
12) Shaquille O’Neal, Magic (’92-93) - 23.4 ppg, 13.9 rebsand 3.5 blk

Where does Durant fit in? I'm not sure, but I think he'll be 20 ppg, 5 rebs, 1.5 ast, 2 blk, 1.75 stl in 35 minutes a game in his rookie season. For that matter I think Jeff Green will be 14 ppg, 8.5 rebs, 3.5 ast, 1 stl in his rookies season (that is if he see 25 to 30 min a game).

Anyone else have thoughts on Jeff Green's numbers, I mean hell he was the #5 pick (like D-Wade) so it's not like he' chopped liver. Where's the Jeff Green love?

Anonymous said...

I think Green is more ready than Durant is, from a physical standpoint. If he gets the minutes, I think Green could have a great rookie season.

I have heard the comparisons to Lamar Odom, which, if he has a rookie season that good, I will be ecstatic.

I will predict: 13 PPG, 7 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1 spg, 1 bpg

And for who ever said that Ray Allen couldn't bench 185...are you kidding me? Ray Allen probably does reps of 250.

Anonymous said...

KJR seeks basketball analyst

Anonymous said...

That public lynching yesterday was definitely quite the spectacle, AK. It left me feeling a bit squeamish. I hope that groupthink mentality isn't a sign of things to come... makes me afraid to post there now. That tactic may end up hurting the cause overall.

Anonymous said...

"That public lynching yesterday was definitely quite the spectacle, AK. It left me feeling a bit squeamish. I hope that groupthink mentality isn't a sign of things to come... makes me afraid to post there now. That tactic may end up hurting the cause overall."

Undoubtedly, I've come off as a prick over there several times in the past. Yesterday, though, I was just trying to point out that Brian was acting a bit pushy about wanting donations to financially support A Deal Is A Deal (i.e., a political initiative). Hell, I even avoided swearing and mudslinging throughout the entire debate to avoid acting like a total jackass.

Anyway, I think he's basically gotten a bit sensitive about the possibility of the Seattle Supersonics relocating elsewhere; however, I think that a website that's supposedly dedicated to professional basketball should veer away from politicking in the mold of a Tim Eyman. It doesn't appear that most folks agree with me, though.

In the end, ultimately, my dissension cause me to be symbolically tortured like Winston Smith, lobotomized like R.P. McMurphy, and smashed to death like Piggy.

Anonymous said...

Durant will be the best rookie that ever played. He will have more points than Jordan, more rebounds that Shaq and more assists than Mark Jackson.

He will have more tattoos than Swift, more talk than Payton, more steals than the IRS. He will be better than ice cream, sweeter than maple sugar, hotter than tabasco sauce. Durant will soar higher than a Boeing, he will dig deeper than the undertaker.

Durant will be the 2nd coming. He will have more buzz than a bee, more honesty than Gonzales, more heart than Cheney, more brains than Bush.

Uhh. Make that more brains than Einstein... I didn't intend to demean KD by comparing him to the worst president in american history.

Unknown said...

you are blind to your crap, AK. Anybody who reads the posts will understand that you were not engaging Brian in any debate. You didn't really respond to him. You dismissed his reasoning and even on this site you make it appear that he never tried to address your complaints. He did. You just dismissed him. Since he won't waste his time coming over here to defend himself, I guess I'll try.
Why? I appreciate his efforts and view him as one a civic leader in this effort to keep the Sonics in Seattle.

You continue to drag his name in the mud over hear by saying stuff like:

"Besides, I don't routinely suck him off and down his jizz like most posters over there. Of course, I'm not a cum guzzling slut like most of those lemmings."


Anonymous said...

Okay, I went off on a few obscene rants yesterday.

It wasn't really a shot at Brian, however. Hell, he had every right to ban me from his website and I'm not complaining about that.

Yet, that notwithstanding, I was fucking pissed off that people came over here slinging personal attacks at me -- while at the same time bitching like a bunch of hypocrites that I sling personal atttacks -- and I felt it necessary to defend myself.

If someone doesn't like my style, then they can just ignore me. Some people are too thick-skulled to understand that, though.

Anyway, I'm no longer bitter about anything; it's all in the past.

Anonymous said...

The guys over at have been waxing poetic lately about KD. They haven't actually made any predictions, but some of the posts are a good read.

We all know KD will be the #1 option next season, but has anyone wondered where Green is going to be on the pecking order? Is he our 2nd option? Or is he behind Wilcox? West? Or, gulp, Wally Z? I wonder how much of a distributor he will be, vs drive/shoot threat.


Anonymous said...

My take on this team...we'll suck, but it'll be fun. We had 31 wins last year and we had Ray and Rashard?? Oh yeah, no one played defense...

Enter KD...will he bust? Not a chance. He's fundamentally sound. There is and was a ton of prodigy street-ballers who were supposed to take the league by storm (telfair doesn't hold a candle to KD and I can't remember any other names--go figure). Street-ballers play great 1-on-1 basketball but none of that translates to team basketball. Yu see the difference between the And-1 tour and the NBA, hopefully.

KD isn't pigeon-holed into a street-baller label. Sure he is gifted but he is fundementally gifted as well. Did any one see the intrasquad scrimmage for the US team a couple weeks ago? The NBA'ers would just run up and down the court and hoist up shots and it almost seemed as KD was "passed up" during some parts of the game and despite that he showed great ability in the open court and then great anticipation off of a mid-range miss by an NBA player only to break for the hoop and throw down a put back jam.

Here it is though. KD will be the number one option if there is no aquisition of a veteran scorer and because of that he will attract the bulk of the defensive focus. Because of that and no disrespect to Jeff Green (who I think will be the Scottie Pippen to KD's Michael Jordan for years to come), KD may score 20 a game but at a 40% pace. If he plays the 2 then he will be underutilized as a rebounder and will average around 4-5 boards a game to go along with 4 assists. I agree that his length at the 2 will enable him to block a couple shots a game though. The constant variable is that KD is a good free-throw shooter so he may gain a couple points per game on that.

This is what I believe though. Presti is going to do some great things but everything he does will not turn out and will definitely not sit well with the Sonic faithful. We'll be in the lottery again next year and by all accounts we'll end up with a PF from Kansas (has any PF from Kansas ever lived up to potential?) Who wouldn't trade Collison for Heinrich?? Our PG position is a mess and you can make it a long way with a PG who can create. He doesn't have to be a scorer but he has to be a creator. I don't think we have that player on the roster. Do something with Petro and Sene. How much would it cost to cut Petro loose and let Sene get some experience in the NBDL? What's it going to hurt? Aren't we going to the lottery next year anyway?