OAKLAND – The routine has become as normal and fascinating as Warriors guard Stephen Curry making a shot from basically any distance. Instead of Curry firing off shots from anywhere in a game, this is Curry doing the same thing at the end of practice. Along with Curry, Warriors forward Kevin Durant has filled the same job description.
During the first four days of training camp, Curry and Durant have spent the end of practice together firing off 3-pointers and jumpers all over the court. They make their shots most of the times. They miss their shots some of the times. They blend in a mix of fun and competitiveness all of the time.
“He’s the greatest shooter who ever stepped on the court,” Durant said of Curry. “Hell yeah I feel good that I can keep up with him at times.”
The moment itself naturally revealed some of their competitiveness.
While Durant insisted he does not keep score, Curry admitted he cares about the results.
“We always challenge each other,” Curry said. “The best thing about it is we both get mad when we miss a shot.”
Before Curry smiled over the idea of playing a game of H-O-R-S-E, Durant teased a reporter’s line of questioning on the value of shooting with Curry.
“You think I couldn’t shoot?” Durant asked. “Oh, you’re surprised I can make a shot?”
Amid the competitive moments and playful ribbing, Durant’s routine with Curry shows how he feels much more comfortable with the Warriors during his second training camp than his first.
Granted, Durant’s journey partly reflected why Kerr poked fun at his own quest for his team to seek improvement. As Kerr told his players during Wednesday’s practice, “how do you tell a team like that to get better” after winning two NBA titles in the past three years? Kerr then stressed small things that could yield big outcomes, including cutting hard, setting quality screens and adding offensive sets.
“Obviously Kevin is a part of that,” Curry said. “We all are. It’s good to put that in the right perspective.”
This is the right perspective – Durant ended his first season with an NBA Championship, a Finals MVP and that ranked 12th in the NBA in scoring (25.1 points on 53.7 percent shooting). Here’s the scary part, though. Durant still experienced relative hiccups with his health (missed 22 games with a left knee injury) and normal hiccups in adapting to a new environment.
“Last year, he was trying to figure out what the hell we were doing,” Kerr said. “This year, he’s totally dialed in. He understands the concepts and is comfortable in his surroundings. He’s a different guy this year.”
Durant did not sound as forthcoming.
“I don’t even remember about last year,” Durant said. “If you’ve got questions about this training camp, I’ll answer them for you.”
Perhaps that is because Durant’s arrival last year in Golden State coincided with criticism over his departure. He has constantly addressed that storyline. He brought it back to life before training camp on Twitter. Perhaps that is because Durant’s adjustment was fairly minimal. He showed similar numbers in November (26.2 points at 57.1%), December (24.5 points at 50%), January (27.4 points at 56.5%). After missing 22 games entering Game 3 of the Warriors’ first-round series against Portland, Durant mirrored his career averages in points (28.5) while shooting more efficiently from the field (55.6%).
Numbers do not lie. They do not always tell the full story, though.
“It took a couple of months for him to feel comfortable with our style of play more than anything,” Kerr said. “It’s one thing to memorize a play. It’s another thing to feel comfortable with the concepts of what you’re trying to accomplish every time you’re out on the floor. Then there’s a lot of nuances within that. I thought it took him a couple of months and then he figured it out and he was off and running.”
And now, Durant said he’s “more comfortable in this training camp” partly because he has simplified his workday between training in the gym and relaxing at home. As Kerr mused, “he’s one of the best players in the world; not a whole lot of mystery.”
“It’s basketball. Each level you get to, each day you get better and each time you get more comfortable,” Durant said. “It’s about being comfortable in the offense and schemes. Everybody is comfortable in their roles. We all have what we have to do. It’s on us to find this time to catch a rhythm with each other and getting back to knowing our plays and the tricks of the trade.”
Durant has found a good outlet to catch his rhythm.
“It would be a bad move for me not to keep shooting with Steph Curry every day,” Durant said. “I’m going to try to get it in as much as possible.”
This News Credit Goes To >> Source link