Over 62 regular season games this season, Kevin Durant averaged 25.1 points while shooting just under 54 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from deep.
In 72 games with the Thunder in 2015-16, Durant averaged 28.2 points per game and shot 50.5 percent from the field and just under 39 percent from 3-point territory.
Durant recently sat down with The Vertical's Michael Lee, who asked him the following question:
Lee: "I know we talked earlier and you said this move wasn’t about a ring chase, it was more about how you want to play basketball for your career. How do you feel it has played out for your game, in terms of maybe shots coming easier? Because it seems like you’re getting your points, but it’s not as much of a grind. Am I right in saying that?"
Durant: "Uh, yeah. Obviously, when you’ve got a better, when you’ve got a deeper team, you’ve got guys that can handle the ball, you’ve got shooters, you’ve got guys that can finish at the rim, it just opens it up for everybody. I think we just work well together.
"I scored a lot of points before I came here. I did a lot. This is not the first time I shot 50 percent from the field. It’s not the first year I averaged 25 points a game. And I’m not doing it because I’m here with these guys. I’ve done it before.
"It’s just the fact that when I get my shots – and it’s not as much as I got before – but I’m in position to be efficient. I may get in transition a lot more than I did before. I may get it in space more, so I’m allowed to catch and make a decision whether I want to shoot or drive. Simple stuff like that, that’s the difference.
"But I had some great years before I got here. It’s just a different way I’m getting my points now. It’s not much of a grind. But it’s still a challenge."
Last year, 38 percent of Durant's shots came after zero dribbles, 26.9 percent were "open," 9.6 percent were "wide open," his usage rate was 30.5 percent and he averaged 5.1 transition points per game.
This year, 46.1 percent of his shots came after zero dribbles, 27 percent were considered "open," 10.9 percent were "wide open," his usage rate was 27.6 percent and he averaged 6.5 transition points per game.
He was a quick learner.
"We’ve got smart players. My IQ has grown since I’ve gotten to the league and I realize how important all the moving parts are for the team," Durant explained. "It was an adjustment as far as me being a new guy and having a certain way of playing, talking about the team and adding me in there.
"I’m just figuring how to move without the ball, play in space. But for the most part, it wasn’t that difficult as far as the basketball side, it was just the small details that had to get done."
As the defending champion Cavaliers are one win away from advancing to the NBA Finals, the consensus is they will meet the Warriors there and, moreover, that Part III of the trilogy promises to be the most compelling yet.
Chris Mullin is not so sure.
The Hall of Fame forward and current St. John's head coach, a guest Wednesday on the NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Insider Podcast, perceives a reasonable chance of sweeping the series.
“I’m going on the record saying 4-2, just because maybe I want to see six games,” Mullin said. “I would not be surprised if it’s 4-1 or 4-zero. I think they’re that good.”
Recalling how the Warriors started sluggishly after a one-week layoff ahead of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs, Mullin conceded there could be some rust but probably not enough to invite a loss.
“I don’t want to lay any . . . pressure, but the Warriors, to me, this team that we’re watching is going to go down in history as one of the best teams of all time,” he said. “I believe that. I think they will stay together and that’s we’re probably going to see four Hall of Fame players that have played together and have dominated and become a dynasty. That’s what we’re going to look back on.
“There’s just a huge disparity between them and the rest of the league -- and not just the Cavaliers. But there’s a huge disparity between them and the Cavaliers. “
The Warriors defeated Cleveland in six games to win the championship in 2015, but the Cavaliers recovered from a 3-1 deficit to take the rematch last June.
Though both teams have made substantive changes, Mullin is more impressed with what the Warriors have done, including the addition of four-time scoring champion Kevin Durant to a nucleus that included All-Stars Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
Mullin pointed out that the losses of Andrew Bogut, along with subtractions to their fabled depth and chemistry, led some to wonder if the Warriors might lose the magic of the previous two seasons. He also understands that point of view.
“But as I see it now,” he said, “I think they’re deeper and have better chemistry than they did last year when they won 73 games.”
It’s not that Mullin gives the Cavaliers, who have won 11 of 12 games in these playoffs, zero chance to win the series. It is just, in his view, very slim. “Cleveland, they’ve got really good people,” he said. “Their talent, I’m not discounting at all. LeBron and Kyrie and Kevin Love, these guys are great, great players.
“I feel like the Warriors are just a notch above everybody. I really believe that.”