An amazing cover isn’t all that Sports Illustrated got out of Kevin Durant for their first playoff issue. They also coaxed the NBA’s first fruit-based efficiency metaphor out of the league’s second-best player. And since it’s so good, I’m not going to make you wait any longer to devour it. From Point Forward:
To Durant, basketball is an orchard, and every shot an apple. “Let’s say you’ve got 40 apples on your tree,” Durant explains. “I could eat about 30 of them, but I’ve begun limiting myself to 15 or 16. Let’s take the wide-open three and the post-up at the nail. Those are good apples. Let’s throw out the pull-up three in transition and the step-back fadeaway. Those are rotten apples. The three at the top of the circle — that’s an in-between apple. We only want the very best on the tree.”
First things first — is Kevin Durant saying he can eat 30 apples in a sitting or is this strictly an analogy? Because 30 apples really seems like a lot. Heck, 15 or 16 seems like a total gut bomb, so I can’t imagine eating double that. I don’t want to be too judgmental about things, but 30 apples is way too many for anyone but a horse to eat. Let’s hope he was just speaking metaphorically, otherwise he’s going to be pretty backed up.
As for the basketball half of this, all it takes is a look at Durant’s shot location data to see how serious he is about his apple picking. Not only did Durant take fewer threes this season than in any of the previous three, he’s also taking fewer shots from 10-23 feet than in any other season of his career. Oh, and he led the NBA in total points and finished second in points per game while not even leading his team in shot attempts. How do you like those apples? (Literally impossible to not include this phrase, deal with it.)
And finally, just to extend what Durant is talking about when deciding which shots are which apples — the slam dunk is the honeycrisp apple of the basketball shot world. Not only are they tasty, you also couldn’t find them back in the 1960s. I’m not saying it’s a perfect comparison, but they’re definitely both delicious.