Wednesday, February 6

Crunching Numbers

We’re more than halfway through the season, which means we’re also well on our way to seeing the future for Kevin Durant. His numbers have been more than adequate – bearing in mind that he’s still very young and inconsistent – and as he’s the slam-dunk choice for rookie of the year, I think we can feel that the future is indeed bright.

Thanks to, we can see beyond the superficial numbers of 19.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.8 turnovers, and so on, to look at more interesting results from the first half of his first season.

For example, you could see how Durant worked with specific players on the Sonics roster. You might be interested to know that Durant’s statistics are much more impressive playing alongside Earl Watson (25.5 points, 41.5 FGP, 6.9 FTA) than with Luke Ridnour (19.6 points, 38 FGP, 4.1 FTA), but that the Sonics win their possessions 50% of the time with Ridnour/Durant, and averaged 105 points per game, compared to only 28% with Watson/Durant and an average point production of 95 points. (To be fair, Durant has only played 213 minutes with Ridnour as opposed to 970 with Watson, and those numbers do not figure in quality of opponents).

On the same vein, Durant’s win percentages with Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox are 28 and 31%, respectively, while Durant/Thomas check in at 41%. On the whole, Durant’s best +/- numbers came with Ridnour, Szczerbiak, Wilcox, Thomas, and Petro, while his worst numbers were with Green, Wilkins, West, and Watson. In fact, the Durant/Green tandem’s +/- of -264 is the worst pairing on the team, and a stark reminder of the mistakes young players make in their rookie seasons.

Looking further at Durant’s numbers this year, we see that the Sonics allow 112.7 points when he is on the court, as opposed to 101.3 when he’s sitting on the bench, further illustrated by the 51% opponents shoot with Durant on-court compared to 45% when he’s sitting.

On a more promising note, while most of the five-man groups Durant is paired with have lost their battles, the Watson-Durant-Szczerbiak trio seems to be effective, whether they are paired with any combination of Wilcox, Thomas, or Collison (so long as Jeff Green isn’t involved, anyways).

There are plenty more numbers to look at, but that gives a quick insight into what has transpired so far. Let’s just hope that Green continues to improve his play, and that the struggles the two rookies have experienced are nothing more than growing pains.

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