By Ryan Costello
Kevin Durant was under the lights at the, ahem, arena formerly known as the Ford Center for the first time since Game 6 of the first round of last year’s playoffs, and it looked like he had missed it.
After shooting just 9-24 from the floor and 1-7 from behind the arc against Miami and Memphis, Durant shot 8-10 overall and 4-5 from distance in his homecoming performance Thursday night.
Everyone anticipated Durant to break free from his recent shooting struggles, but what has come as a pleasant surprise is the fourth year pro’s apparent focus on maturing as a distributor.
As he has for most of the preseason, Durant continued to emphasize his passing game against CSKA. He finished with seven assists, but also was a major contributor to Oklahoma City’s turnover woes, accounting for seven of the team’s 25 giveaways on the night.
“Seven assists, I mean, that’s a number we will live with every day, every game, but with the turnovers, he really has to do a better job taking care of the basketball,” head coach Scott Brooks said of Durant’s game.
The consolation for Durant against CSKA was that his passing, for the most part, wasn’t the problem. He made more than a handful of passes that led to good looks at the basket. Several of his turnovers were on strips or poor decisions to attack the basket, neither of which are common in Durant’s style of play.
The lesson here is this: Durant’s focus right now is on developing as a facilitator in addition to a scorer, and as most in and around the organization know, when he works on something, it shows.
“He wants to be an all-around basketball player, he wants to be complete, and in order to do that, you have to defend and you’ve got to pass,” Brooks said of Durant. “We all know that he can score, and he defended last season and we expect him to do the same this season. He has to be able to pass the ball much better than he did last year.”