A Look at the Seasons of Durant and Westbrook

Published 04/26/2016 by Vantage Sports
  • So "superstar status" is a thing.

  • While we're still feeding the deep-learning machine for the precise algorithm to tell us who exactly is and isn't a superstar, let's take a look in the meantime at some of Kevin Durant's and Russell Westbrook's stats this season just for fun.

I'm not really sure what "superstar status" is or, even if it were something we'd want to track, whether limiting the data to on-court actions makes sense. After all, Russell Westbrook can strike a pose and defy the laws of physics to get to the club. That's surely relevant to being a superstar.

But since we're just your average, everyday stats site that collects more relevant NBA data than anyone else in the world, let's stick with something a little more objective and take a look at a selection of Russell Westbrook's and Kevin Durant's stats this season.

Sample sizes for all of the ranks reported below are set to include players who get regular minutes (basically, n = 220).

Points per Chance

This is the ultimate rate-adjusted, volume-scoring stat because it isn't affected by offensive rebounding or fortunate opponent blocks/deflections that bounce back in your hands. At .29, Durant ranks 2nd behind only you-know-who Stephen Curry. Westbrook is tied for 10th at .25 with Isaiah Thomas, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and Carmelo Anthony.

Points per Shot

OK, but what about straight-up efficiency of shooting? Durant creeps into the top 5, at #5 with 1.31. The rest of the top 5 is filled with near-exclusive dunkers and, yeah, you-know-who. Westbrook places 65th with 1.15, tied with the one and only Dirk Nowitzki. How's that for irony?

Contest+ FG%

If you're a superstar, presumably, you're being guarded as closely as possible, and you have to be able to hit the tough shots. Durant clocks in with a Contest+ FG% of 42.5%, good for 9th in the league. Westbrook falls to 94th with Contest+ FG% of 35.5%.

True Facilitation

This one is all on the passer. It is the number of passes to uncontested looks per 100 chances that the player is on the court. Westbrook ranks 3rd at 5.15, while Durant is 35th at 2.67. You can see that there is a huge drop off from the elite facilitators and the rest of the league.

Assist+ per 100 Chances

Assist+ includes all types of effective facilitation: assists, passes to shooting fouls, passes to missed open shots, and crucial passes (or hockey assists). Westbrook's rate is 15.00, which is good for 4th in the league. Durant manages only 7.01, which is 82nd. Another interesting stat to note is that Westbrook recorded the most crucial passes of any player in the league this season.

TO per 100 Touches

Welp, at least Westbrook and Durant beat James Harden in this category. But he's the only one they beat in the whole league. Westbrook did edge Durant (7.19 to 7.22), but never fear Thunder fans, Dion Waiters joined the party at fourth worst in the league in this stat.

Ball-Handling TO% vs. Passing TO%

While both prolific turnover-ers of the ball, Durant and Westbrook managed to turn the ball over in very different ways. Of the 40 players with the most turnovers in the league, Durant had the 10th highest Ball-Handling TO%, whereas Westbrook had the 9th highest Passing TO%.

OReb+ per Chance vs. per Opportunity

Westbrook ranks 47th in volume of OReb+ (offensive rebounds, tips to possession, and fouls drawn during attempt), which is great for a guard. Durant doesn't crack the top 100. But if we look only at offensive rebound opportunities, Durant actually sneaks in the top 10 with .21, while Westbrook remains elite for a guard at 28th.

Loose Balls Possessed per 100 Chances

Superstars shouldn't be against hustle every so often, should they? Westbrook ranks 3rd with .95 Loose Balls Possessed per 100 Chances. Durant didn't get as dirty with about half that number and a rank of 182nd.

Points Against per Shot

When it comes to defending shots, Durant is something special. He ranks 3rd with a 0.87 Points Against per Shot, only .01 behind league-leader Draymond Green. Westbrook struggles a bit here with a disappointing 1.05 and a rank of 142nd.

TO Forced per Chance

Defense is more than just defending shots though. Forcing a turnover before the opponent gets to shoot is pretty darn important too. Westbrook ranks a solid 27th with .032 TO Forced per Chance. Durant does about half as well with .017 (182nd).

Points Allowed per Screen Defended

Mark Cuban may have his touchstones for superstardom, but nothing gets my juices flowing quite like screen defense. Westbrook allows only .062 Points per Screen Defended (rank = 24th). But Durant is not too far behind at .066 (44th).

Closeout Points Allowed

Not into the screen-defense types? How about closing out without allowing the opponent to score? Westbrook allows the 13th-fewest points on closeout opportunities in the league. Durant is pretty good here too, ranking 40th.

So there you have it—a selection of additional criteria for your celestial calculations. Call them superstars, all-stars, shooting stars, or whatever you like, but we hope you factor in some objective analytics when you do.