Raindrops Keep Fallin’

22 02 2008

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I used to live in northern California yet I only went up to the Pacific Northwest a handful of times. The few forays I have taken up there have left me with this impression of the region: it’s always rainy and very, very green.

Oregon and Washington are two of the western states still synonymous with youth and rebirth. The northwest is still unchartered land for lots of people — with the exception of Starbucks employees. It is fitting then that two of the freshest, young NBA stars call those states home.

A lot of people will undoubtedly compare Kevin Durant and Greg Oden’s careers as years pass. I would like to compare the games of Kevin Durant with Brandon Roy. Although a fair amount of the Trailblazers’ future rests on the shoulders of Oden, his second-year companion’s performances have been more crucial for the time being.

The Blazers, with Roy at the helm, sit at a respectable 29-25 overall with a Western Conference record of 17-13. That conference record is comparable to the Denver Nuggets and the red-hot Houston Rockets. That’s definitely saying something. The Blazers are a young team so they don’t perform especially well on the road. If they would have improved on their 8-18 road record, they would be in the playoff crowd.

Even though Roy played like a man in last week’s All-Star game, I don’t think he gets the props that he deserves. On the other hand, I hear so much about Kevin Durant. He’s a nice player so he deserves it but it can’t be argued that Durant is over-hyped.

Let’s take a look at Durant’s season compared to Roy’s rookie season. Durant has started every game of this season while scoring 19.4 points, grabbing 4.1 boards and dropping 2.2 dimes. Roy tipped the points scale at a respectable 16.8, 4.4 and 4.0, still very good for a rookie. This isn’t much of a surprise, Durant is a straight scorer while Roy was used as a combo guard last season. The statistics seem to reflect their respective roles.

The telling stat is their shooting percentages. Young players aren’t normally expected to carry their teams to the playoffs but they are expected to be efficient while learning the professional game. Durant is 40.2% from the field and 29.1% from deep this season. Roy was 45.6% from the field and 37.7% from afar. Those are huge discrepancies.

I’m glad that Brandon Roy got a chance to showcase his game with the other All-Stars. It will be interesting to see when Durant feels the heat to produce like a certain star to the south. Until then… keep it rainin’, Kevin.

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