Longhorns in the NBA: Progress reports

Will Korn

Most NBA teams have played between eight and 10 games so far this season — about 12 percent of the 82-game schedule. Here’s a look at how some former Texas Longhorns are faring so far. This is part one of a three-part series. 

Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder forward)

Durant is having yet another MVP caliber season so far. He’s leading the league in scoring at 29.6 points per game. To put that into perspective, LeBron James, who is on pace for another historically great season, is trailing Durant in scoring by 3.6 points a night. Durant is also averaging seven rebounds and 5.2 assists per game — evidence that he really has improved his overall offensive performance. 

If there is one minor flaw in Durant’s performance so far, it has been his field goal percentage. He’s taking about 18 shots per game, which is his career average, but his shooting percentage this season is down just over 2 percent from his career 47.4 percent. This miniscule setback shouldn’t offset Durant’s otherwise superb start. His Thunder is 7-3, all while he’s had to shoulder a much heavier load with the absence of winger Kevin Martin from last season.

Grade: A+

Jordan Hamilton (Denver Nuggets forward)

Playing with limited minutes, at just over 18 a night, Hamilton has been a solid scoring punch off the Nuggets’ bench, averaging 8.5 points per game. With another year of experience in the association, Hamilton has clearly gotten more comfortable playing in Denver’s rotation, and his role and importance in the team have increased. His versatility is on display so far. He isn’t shooting lights out — only 45.6 percent inside the arc and 33 percent from the three — but he’s scoring from all areas at a decent rate.  

Hamilton has also been a respectable force on the boards so far for Denver. The production of nearly four rebounds per 18 minutes is a stat any team in the league would love to have off the bench. Even though the Nuggets are struggling right now at 4-6, don’t put much, if any, of that blame on Hamilton. For what he’s being asked to do, he’s more than delivering.

Grade: B+