By Eric G. Satterwhite
Texans say everything is bigger in Texas. Additionally, Lone Star State citizenry are fond of saying, “Don’t mess with Texas.” So when one ventures into the State capital of Austin, home of the University of Texas where Longhorn hoopster Kevin Durant is plying his trade and auditioning for NBA talent evaluators, one can sense why the nation is captured in the rave and Do Rant for this Durant. The excitement surrounding the majestic freshman star and his mystical arrival to the basketball world at large is not without merit and when the USA’s largest State has your back all will follow like synchronized dominos. Walk with HoopsAddict.com as we lasso Kevin Durant’s relevance, impact, and basketball specific proficiencies.
The basketball god’s have formulated the ultimate hybrid player that is not defined by position or categorized by a number spot. Kevin Durant, popularly known as KD, is the rare basketball prodigy that escapes categorical description. KD has that incarnated divine elixir of basketball brilliance spiraling thru his DNA reminiscent of a multitude of today’s NBA acclaimed players. Durant’s physiology recalls the lithe frame of Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh, Durant’s 7’6” wing span is the height of Yao Ming, Durant’s fleet feet that barely touch hardwood is reminiscent of a giant version of the Nets Vince Carter, his recognition of soft areas in the oppositions defense on the NCAA level equals what Dirk Nowitzki provides the Mavericks, and Durant has the game approach and wisdom to use his prolonged physical traits like the T-wolves Kevin Garnett. Needless to say, based on the aforementioned, Durant has visceral round ball intuitions. Durant has exemplified so many array of talents via the Texas Longhorn system lead by Head Coach Rick Barnes that this has been the most perfect merger of system and player since Coach Jud Heathcote of Michigan State handed off point guard carte blanche to Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
The next level talent evaluator does not miss the merger of the frosh prodigy from Maryland who grew up in ACC and Big East country to head southwest and Longhorn Coach Rick Barnes opening the gateway for KD to vaudeville his array of skills.
Let’s take a look at the Longhorn system and Kevin Durant’s application.
Longhorn Coach Rick Barnes is on record as saying, “If I went into this season knowing we didn’t have a point guard and said, ‘Kevin, you have to be our point guard’ he could have done that. If I said to him ‘You’ve got to be a low post player and stay there’ Kevin would do that. So what we’ve done this year is let him do it all.” I told him when I recruited him: You should want it all.”
Kevin Durant, aka K-Smoove to his teammates, hit the Texas campus knowing the Longhorn basketball landscape was his province after receiving anointing oil from Barnes and he has not disappointed. After receipt of this blue light K-Smoove has left mouths agape when viewing the representation of his prodigious skills. Modestly put, the way Texas utilizes Durant K-Smoove is above comparison.
What Durant represents better than anybody is his command of finesse. Durant’s game is aesthetically pleasing and decadent with fundamentals. Yet his gift of offensive basketball is the buzz.
K-Smoove has textbook shooting form on his perimeter jumper and launches at the height of his release making it virtually impossible to block his shot. Durant has the perfect three-finger hand splay after his follow through and a feathery yo-yo rotation on his trajectory. KD has the knack to always have the seams of the rock aligned horizontally to guarantee that if chance should have him shooting off balance the proper basketball alignment when arced towards the rim will find the bottom of the net.
Durant will not short leap his jump shot despite his albatross span blessing, so with knack he raises off the court with lickety-split springs to uttermost his choice advantage. Durant shoots in rhythm/balance to the syncopated beat of his personal timekeeper. K-Smoove knows his shooting technique is practically indefensible due to proper utilization of his quick release and previously mentioned adeptness. K-Smoove’s perimeter jump shot is proficient at all of these skill sets: catch and shoot, pull-ups off the fast break/ screens, shooting off the crossover dribble, the turnaround, releasing the “j” off the left and right dribble. Durant can shoot in traffic and has the steely mental toughness to focus after absorbing contact. Durant can fire from three-point range and mid-range at unrivaled accuracy from every offensive attack in the half-court set. Durant squares up to the basketball for sake of some imperfection 95% of the time.
Low Post Game
Durant has a plethora of escape moves on the low post. Since Durant maximizes his finesse akin to a gazelle he constantly shakes loose with quickness and foundational foot speed. Durant has a drop step move off either low block position and is adept at utilizing either hand to finish strong at the basket. Durant is too nimble and explosive off his feet to be denied in the post. Durant off the low post has shown the knack to enforce his face up jumper, quick spin move turnarounds jumper going left and right off the block, and step through post moves after reverse pivoting. Durant seemingly always explodes to the hoop and like the Statue of Liberty has his ball hand entirely extending toward the rim while torching the defense. K-Smoove attains excellent low post position and despite his slight frame utilizes his astounding co-ordinated mobility to attain separation from defenders by slithering thru ruptures in any trap defense.
Equally, Durant has not needed to display his fade away shooting adroitness however it is in his quick strike-scoring repertoire.
Coach Rick Barnes utilizes Durant as a “scorer specific” and rarely when K-Smoove is on the floor does he not receive a touch. Texas is a talented team yet all four players on the court defer to Durant. Durant’s passing mechanics have good form on all basic passing routes. K-Smoove as mentioned is fundamentally sound but he has not displayed playmaking skills that lead to assists. As of this writing Durant’s turnovers average was double that of his assists. Durant’s ability to implement his offensive skills to the benefit of raising his teammates game is the only suspect attribute to his offensive approach. Additionally, Durant has excellent ball handling skills yet his dribbling technique is high with each bounce-reaching hip high yet due to his quickness and sudden first step K-Smoove creates free up interspaces as a result. Durant in the half court set when handling from straightaway picks up his dribble when properly closed out due to his super ball type bounce attributed to his stand up style.
The highlight era of 24-hour cable networks and the hype machines looking for the next great thing are enamored with KD’s offensive game honed since the age of 11 with a Pete Maravich reminiscent obsession. Pistol Pete, the son of a Coach named Press Maravich, spent the majority of his youth honing his game akin to Kevin Durant. Maravich, like KD, hit the LSU campus running and was an offensive machine with abilities to this day not replicated. Durant with his unparalleled dedication has displayed his visually stunning offensive game; as a result of repetition of 10 would be players. Coach Barnes with his knowledge of the Big 12 landscape has designed the plateau for Durant to express his solitary efforts on the National stage. In the era of “bling” Durant shines bright when he’s attacking the rack on offense and like the late Great Pistol Durant will seek further value when he mixes in his teammates more on the half court.
Coach Rick Barnes has had Durant guard point guards, wing forwards, and post players. Durant, as is his savvy when playing the perimeter, allows a 2.5 feet distance between himself and his offensive opposite. Durant plays all perimeter offensive players for the jump shot and since his substantial reach can closeout quickly that is wise defense. Also, this style of “D” rarely allows a player to beat Durant off the dribble since the distance he plays with while on ball away from the paint allows defensive recovery and dictates offensive flow.
Durant plays all interior post shots in his defensive area for the block shot. One would think with Durant’s agility his closeout technique off the weak side when rotating would be more efficient yet it is average at best. Barnes plays plenty of zone defense and interesting enough Big 12 opponents attack Durant’s zone coverage most often. Durant will take an angle on a driving ball reversal instead of a direct straightaway ball posture more often than not. Durant’s defensive carriage will only improve and at this time has been exploited to an intriguing degree.
Where Durant truly excels is on the defensive boards. Durant is unsurpassed in two facets of defensive rebounding the “quick check” and “box-out”. Durant attains the majority of his defensive rebounds with the quick check formula. The quick check is typically finding your man and the ball and instead of making contact via the block out Durant finds the pathway that the offensive rebounder navigates and crosses his path by leaping through the pathway to clean the glass. Durant via the quick check technique is better than any player in collegiate basketball. Durant can also soundly box out and is not afraid to mix it up one iota. Durant’s 23-rebound game is a result of his savvy for utilizing sound rebounding stratagems. Durant with his current slenderness is able to rebound successfully via his ingenious implementation of finesse.
What’s not to like about Kevin Durant’s game? Absolutely nothing. Durant is the formulation of hard work and dedication that is admired by anyone with a pulse. While other kids his age “play stationed” and “cablevisioned” their youth away, Durant was running 20 plus laps up and down a city street that happened to be steep hill, spent holidays in a basketball dungeon, caught naps in his basketball training haven, and absorbed paramilitary conditioning techniques by an unsung mentor named Taras Brown. When calibrating his youthful sacrifice to top-flight status Durant recently stated, “It was tough. As a kid, you just want to play with your friends. But I’m glad I went through that. It made me tougher.”
Unbeknownst to young Durant while he crab/duck walked to scorched hamstrings, watched basketball instructional videos, hoisted various deliveries to an unforgiving rim, and repetitively wrote the sound fundamentals of proper shooting to commit to memory, Kevin Durant was creating a vortex to a basketball galaxy eager to applaud the youthful gym time travails he endured with superabundance.
We here at HoopsAddict.com know all to well why you went down to Texas – it’s the only State in the Union large enough to contain KD’s heart!