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BBallBreakdown Presents: Ebony & Ivory- Kevin Durant and Kevin Love

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BBallBreakdown is coming at us today with an examination of the two Kevins we saw put on a showcase this past Wednesday, when the Thunder beat the Timberwolves in overtime. This web site has some excellent video-assisted analysis, so I would strongly recommend perusing their archives:

NBA Breakdown: Ebony & Ivory - Kevin Durant and Kevin Love | BBallBreakdown

In case you had forgotten:

Kevin Durant: 47 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks (and one Jordanesque fade-away for the winning points)

Kevin Love: 31 points, 21 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block (and an epic Minnesota winter tan)

They are two players who approach the game in a completely different way, and Coach Nick is going to take us through a number of sets where we can see how these two young stars make their bones.

Soak it all in, because it is a good analysis of two burgeoning stars and how they effectively apply themselves to the game at hand.

Coach Nick does yeoman's work so see what he has to say, but if you're interested in some additional comments, proceed after the jump.

Kevin Durant

  • The first thing that should jump out at you from the Wolves' game is that Durant was much more intentional about trying to score the ball inside the 3-point arc. He did go 4-8 from behind the line, including some deep 3-pointers, but unlike in previous games, he did a much better job moving toward the rim rather than fade away. Easy evidence of this can be seen by the number of his free throw attempts, which was 13-14 from the stripe.
  • Durant was more intentional about utilizing his height against the smaller Corey Brewer. The truth is, at Kevin's height and with his length, very few people are going to block his shot from the outside, so it makes sense that this part of his perimeter game should be used most when his defender is an even match-up (like Ron Artest). Against Brewer though, he had a clear height advantage, and Durant utilized this in some seldom-seen back-to-the-basket post play. (See 2:04 for an example)
  • Coach Nick does detect a little green in Durant's post-game, however. At 2:18, you can see Durant with his back to the basket on the block, and this time he pivots into the lane, rather than fade to the baseline. He makes the classic mistake of making himself "small," does not keep the ball above shoulder-height, and gets stripped. It would benefit Durant to take a look at Tim Duncan's post moves, and even look at how Dwight Howard has improved in this area, to keep the ball away from the smaller players who like to pick pockets when the bigs aren't looking.
  • Durant is like two different players when he decides to make his defender work, versus when he simply tries to play spot-up. It is much easier for him to catch and shoot in rhythm when he curls off screens, feels the defense, and gives himself the option of the pull-up, pump-fake, or drive. When he limits himself to spot-up shooting like Rashard Lewis, he's mediocre at best.

Kevin Love

  • Kevin Love's rebounding game at this point is probably best compared to Tim Duncan. If you go to 2:55, you can see Love's classic and fundamentally perfect technique: the shot goes up, he positions himself, times his jump perfectly to catch the ball at his apex, catches it securely with two hands, pulls it to his chest with elbows out, and then pivots to look for the outlet pass.
  • Given the incredible rate at which Love has been accumulating rebounds, you might be tempted to compare him to the last great rebounding power forward, Dennis Rodman. However, their games are completely different. Rodman relied on freakish athleticism, constant jumping and tipping, and pursuit of the ball to get his boards. Love on the other hand has to compensate for his lack of vertical game by mastering proper positioning and technique. The long-term advantage of this style is that it will give him an extremely long career if he doesn't get injured.
  • Though Love isn't explosively athletic, it cannot be said that he lacks natural talent. His ability to hit face up jumpers, including a stunning 45% from 3-point range, separate him from most other power forwards. You can also see the natural ability he has in controlling the ball in tip-ins. He has remarkable tactile sense.
  • Love's post-game is a work in progress. He has a nice jump-hook which he times well, shooting the ball on his way up rather than at his jumping peak. If you recall, he almost won the game with this shot on Wednesday. I haven't seen it yet from Love, but I wouldn't be surprised if he adds a left-handed hook shot to go along with his dominant hand. He does have a tendency to drift on his hook-shot though, when really this shot needs to be shot in a vertical jumping motion, not a lateral one. It will also be interesting to see if he can add a step-back fade-away shot to his game, because against players of equal size, Love is going to have trouble getting the separation he needs.

Thanks to Coach Nick and BBallBreakdown. Let's hope he'll have some more video analysis for us in the future.