Durant shines in first five games, Turner (still) struggles

Abhishek Mukund

Another week of NBA basketball means another week of overreactions. The Lakers started 1–3, and the Thunder began 0–4, meaning both teams are missing the playoffs. The New Orleans Pelicans may end up with fastest pace ever, and the Kawhi Leonard that was deported to Canada is still as good there as he was in Texas.

Longhorns around the NBA have also made some noise — both good and bad — this week. Kevin Durant continues to play at a high level, while Myles Turner continues to play at a level very short of that.

Kevin Durant

The Warriors are off to a fast start, having lost only one of their first five games. A big reason for that is the stellar play of former Longhorn Kevin Durant. This season, he’s averaging 27.4 points, eight rebounds and six assists while shooting a staggering 52 percent from the field and 93.5 percent from the free throw line. He’s been struggling a bit from beyond the arc though, shooting only 25 percent from deep, but that accuracy should continue to rise as the season continues.

In their last game, the Warriors beat the Washington Wizards, 144-122. Durant played well, scoring an efficient 30 points to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists. At one point in the third quarter, Durant asked to come out of the game because of how easily they were blowing the Wizards out. Durant’s superstar teammate, Stephen Curry, had 51 points of his own.

The Warriors have looked dominant at times, but their defense still needs improvement. Some of their usual snipers from deep have been off and they don’t have great size at the center position. Still, this Warriors team looks poised to add another championship ring at the end of the season.

Myles Turner

Myles Turner has all the tools to be a force in the league. He’s a seven-footer who can shoot from anywhere on the court, defends the paint, and has a nice post-up game. What else could you ask for in a starting center? But despite all the upside, the results haven’t been plentiful.

Turner has disappointed this season, just like he did during the last. Turner is averaging just 11.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 50 percent shooting from the field and only 25 percent from beyond the arc. While those stats may not be horrendous, Turner has been outplayed by centers like JaVale McGee.

In nearly 30 minutes of play Wednesday, Turner scored a measly 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He took no threes and no free throws. That means he wasn’t driving to the paint to get fouled, nor was he stepping out to space the floor. Meanwhile, Turner’s backup, Domantas Sabonis, had 16 points and 10 rebounds despite playing seven minutes less than Turner did. The Pacers could find themselves benching Turner if that level of production keeps up from Sabonis.