Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

NBA Fearless Forecast Weekly Rank: 1

Kevin Durant

NBA Fearless Forecast Weekly Rank: 1

Kevin Durant

NBA Fearless Forecast Weekly Rank: 1

Kevin Durant

NBA Fearless Forecast Weekly Rank: 1

Curry and Durant combine for 62 in Warriors win

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant hit 62 points between them, as the Golden State Warriors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 124-116.

Curry and Durant combine for 62 in Warriors win

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant hit 62 points between them, as the Golden State Warriors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 124-116.

Curry and Durant combine for 62 in Warriors win

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant hit 62 points between them, as the Golden State Warriors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 124-116.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Philadelphia 76ers

Nov 18, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and forward Kevin Durant (35) watch on during foul shots against the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Curry scores 35, Warriors rally to beat 76ers 124-116

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 62 points as the Warrirors overcame a 22-point deficit in a win over the 76ers.

Stephen Curry scores 35, Warriors rally to beat 76ers 124-116

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 62 points as the Warrirors overcame a 22-point deficit in a win over the 76ers.

Curry scores 35, Warriors rally to beat 76ers 124-116

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 62 points as the Warrirors overcame a 22-point deficit in a win over the 76ers.

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors goes after a loose ball against the Philadelphia 76ers

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors goes after a loose ball against the Philadelphia 76ers

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors goes after a loose ball against the Philadelphia 76ers (AFP Photo/Rob Carr)

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors goes after a loose ball against the Philadelphia 76ers

Curry scores 35, Warriors rally to beat 76ers 124-116

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 18: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on November 18, 2017 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons, of Australia, center, shoots as Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant (35) and Shaun Livingston, right, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Philadelphia. The Warriors won 124-116. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) high-fives to Kevin Durant, center right, and Draymond Green, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Philadelphia. The Warriors won 124-116. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant, center, goes up for the shot with Philadelphia 76ers' Robert Covington, left, Dario Saric, of Croatia, center left, and JJ Redick, right, defending during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Philadelphia. The Warriors won 124-116. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant (35) dunks as Philadelphia 76ers' Richaun Holmes, left, looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

Yahoo DFS Basketball: Sunday Picks

Sasha Yodashkin picks the Sunday NBA slate on Yahoo, but is he willing to pay up for Kevin Durant whose minutes might be limited?

Kevin Durant on his Thunder jersey No. 35: 'That thing's going to be in the rafters'

Kevin Durant on his Thunder jersey No. 35: 'That thing's going to be in the rafters'

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Fearless Forecast Week 4:

Kevin Durant

Fearless Forecast Week 4:

Kevin Durant

Fearless Forecast Week 4:

Kevin Durant

Fearless Forecast Week 4:

DeMarcus Cousins: The James Harden of Centers

DeMarcus Cousins returned to the Pelicans this season with a leaner frame and even leaner shot profile. For years, he had been held back by indulgence in long, two-point jumpers that accomplished little, save for protect defenders from his punishing interior game. The solution—one that has led to career-best efficiency—was not to box Cousins in, but to empower him to go even further out.

The three-point line has become a fascinating threshold. Put a capable shooter behind it and the entire dynamic of a possession changes. Defenses are forced to stretch in exaggerated ways to deny attempts from beyond the arc, creating openings elsewhere. The sheer number of three-point shooters that most teams put on the floor completely warps the geometry of defensive systems. Everything changed once the league hit a critical mass of three-point acceptance. The simple reality is that most of the best defenses in NBA history would be worthless against today’s long-range offenses. Principles geared toward hand-to-hand combat just aren’t of much use once ballistics are involved.

Cousins has become an unlikely emblem of the movement. Somehow, the league’s most terrifying post scorer is also the artillery behind 7.6 three-point attempts per game. That average makes Cousins the seventh-most prolific three-point shooter in the league, but his figure would have led the NBA outright in the majority of seasons since the three-point line’s introduction. That he makes just 34.6% of his threes is almost beside the point; Cousins’s size demands a big, traditional center as his defender, and yet the changing shape of his game serves to exploit just that kind of opponent. That Anthony Davis requires a quicker, more agile defender cements the matchup nightmare.

Any lingering concerns about how Cousins and Davis might coexist have been decimated by their joint success. Both are so flexible as to oscillate comfortably between playing inside and out, adapting to whatever best suits their circumstances. They are far from twin towers. The entire offense revolves around the wide variety of ways that both Cousins and Davis can be deployed, and thus far New Orleans has been tremendously successful with both on the floor.

When Cousins isn’t backing his man down, he’s peering over him from the top of the floor. Most often, the three itself is little more than an implied threat. It beckons a defender closer, pulling a rim protector out of his natural jurisdiction and clearing the way for the Pelicans’ cutters. This is where we see many of Cousins’s 5.8 (!!) assists per game materialize; only about 10 players in the league assist more field goals at the rim. It’s traditional high-post action pushed further out and to its logical conclusion.

By putting Cousins to work in this space, the Pelicans haven’t just turned him loose as a three–point shooter. They’ve empowered him as a driver. This mammoth human being can rumble down the lane on command, striding right past his slow-footed counterpart in the process. Bigs in the league today might be practiced in containing guards on the perimeter out of pick-and-roll situations, but in this scenario they have no way of using their size and length to their advantage. Cousins is huge, he’s physical, and he’s exceptionally clever. His handle is smoother than it has any right to be. He’s also faster than most any other player at his position, leaving centers at the mercy of moves like this:

How the hell is anyone supposed to contend with that? Even if a defense collapses down on his drives from the corners, Cousins will beat you on simple plays:

Cousins—one of the biggest centers left working—has become a downhill player. He drives more times a game, according to NBA.com, than Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and C.J. McCollum. As a ball-handler, he has initiated three times as many pick-and-rolls as Al Horford and over 10 times more than any other center, per Synergy Sports. Even those who stick with him on the way to the rim are so easily moved out of the way. All it takes is a slight hesitation to pull the defender off balance and a bump of the shoulder to keep them there. Cousins has been creating separation to get up shots his entire basketball life. Now he’s doing it on a beeline toward the rim with the entire defense powerless to stop him.

Having both the three and the drive on the table at all times has brought Cousins alarmingly close to statistical ideals. He is the James Harden of centers—a wrecking ball of threes, free throws, and shots right at the rim, with little allowance for the fat in between. Consider the similarity in what percentage of each player’s shots come from the highest-value spaces on the floor:

“Moreyball attempts” are defined as shot attempts from the restricted area or three-point range.

Harden, a paragon of efficiency, nearly mirrors Cousins in effective field goal percentage. Both are among the most–fouled players in the league and also the most turnover-prone; monster usage rates paired with high driving frequency comes with the inevitable risk of empty possessions. Both more than make up for it by maximizing the rest. There is a commonality in the way each changes speeds. Cousins and Harden beat their opponents off the dribble through quick bursts and body control, the combination of which keeps defenders at a remove. It’s no wonder opponents are tempted to swipe desperately at the ball—connecting often with the arm—in the process. The effectiveness of both stars has as much to do with downshifting as it does explosion. It’s athleticism subtly manifest, understated and impossible to predict.

There are obvious differences between the two, starting most superficially with the fact that Cousins is a big-time rebounder and Harden an exceptional playmaker. No one would confuse one player for the other. What’s material is that both still produce in the same terms. That Cousins dances less with the ball or that Harden plays at a different pace doesn’t change the congruency in their shot charts. Both are working toward similar ends, which is in itself an incredible tribute to Cousins’ progression. It wasn’t long ago that shot selection was a genuine issue for Cousins, whose settling had undercut his potency. No more. Ill-advised shots still creep up from time to time, but even those looks have been redistributed toward far better returns. This is Cousins having his cake and eating it, too—an insatiable scorer taking the next step by changing the way he sets the table.

DeMarcus Cousins: The James Harden of Centers

DeMarcus Cousins returned to the Pelicans this season with a leaner frame and even leaner shot profile. For years, he had been held back by indulgence in long, two-point jumpers that accomplished little, save for protect defenders from his punishing interior game. The solution—one that has led to career-best efficiency—was not to box Cousins in, but to empower him to go even further out.

The three-point line has become a fascinating threshold. Put a capable shooter behind it and the entire dynamic of a possession changes. Defenses are forced to stretch in exaggerated ways to deny attempts from beyond the arc, creating openings elsewhere. The sheer number of three-point shooters that most teams put on the floor completely warps the geometry of defensive systems. Everything changed once the league hit a critical mass of three-point acceptance. The simple reality is that most of the best defenses in NBA history would be worthless against today’s long-range offenses. Principles geared toward hand-to-hand combat just aren’t of much use once ballistics are involved.

Cousins has become an unlikely emblem of the movement. Somehow, the league’s most terrifying post scorer is also the artillery behind 7.6 three-point attempts per game. That average makes Cousins the seventh-most prolific three-point shooter in the league, but his figure would have led the NBA outright in the majority of seasons since the three-point line’s introduction. That he makes just 34.6% of his threes is almost beside the point; Cousins’s size demands a big, traditional center as his defender, and yet the changing shape of his game serves to exploit just that kind of opponent. That Anthony Davis requires a quicker, more agile defender cements the matchup nightmare.

Any lingering concerns about how Cousins and Davis might coexist have been decimated by their joint success. Both are so flexible as to oscillate comfortably between playing inside and out, adapting to whatever best suits their circumstances. They are far from twin towers. The entire offense revolves around the wide variety of ways that both Cousins and Davis can be deployed, and thus far New Orleans has been tremendously successful with both on the floor.

When Cousins isn’t backing his man down, he’s peering over him from the top of the floor. Most often, the three itself is little more than an implied threat. It beckons a defender closer, pulling a rim protector out of his natural jurisdiction and clearing the way for the Pelicans’ cutters. This is where we see many of Cousins’s 5.8 (!!) assists per game materialize; only about 10 players in the league assist more field goals at the rim. It’s traditional high-post action pushed further out and to its logical conclusion.

By putting Cousins to work in this space, the Pelicans haven’t just turned him loose as a three–point shooter. They’ve empowered him as a driver. This mammoth human being can rumble down the lane on command, striding right past his slow-footed counterpart in the process. Bigs in the league today might be practiced in containing guards on the perimeter out of pick-and-roll situations, but in this scenario they have no way of using their size and length to their advantage. Cousins is huge, he’s physical, and he’s exceptionally clever. His handle is smoother than it has any right to be. He’s also faster than most any other player at his position, leaving centers at the mercy of moves like this:

How the hell is anyone supposed to contend with that? Even if a defense collapses down on his drives from the corners, Cousins will beat you on simple plays:

Cousins—one of the biggest centers left working—has become a downhill player. He drives more times a game, according to NBA.com, than Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and C.J. McCollum. As a ball-handler, he has initiated three times as many pick-and-rolls as Al Horford and over 10 times more than any other center, per Synergy Sports. Even those who stick with him on the way to the rim are so easily moved out of the way. All it takes is a slight hesitation to pull the defender off balance and a bump of the shoulder to keep them there. Cousins has been creating separation to get up shots his entire basketball life. Now he’s doing it on a beeline toward the rim with the entire defense powerless to stop him.

Having both the three and the drive on the table at all times has brought Cousins alarmingly close to statistical ideals. He is the James Harden of centers—a wrecking ball of threes, free throws, and shots right at the rim, with little allowance for the fat in between. Consider the similarity in what percentage of each player’s shots come from the highest-value spaces on the floor:

“Moreyball attempts” are defined as shot attempts from the restricted area or three-point range.

Harden, a paragon of efficiency, nearly mirrors Cousins in effective field goal percentage. Both are among the most–fouled players in the league and also the most turnover-prone; monster usage rates paired with high driving frequency comes with the inevitable risk of empty possessions. Both more than make up for it by maximizing the rest. There is a commonality in the way each changes speeds. Cousins and Harden beat their opponents off the dribble through quick bursts and body control, the combination of which keeps defenders at a remove. It’s no wonder opponents are tempted to swipe desperately at the ball—connecting often with the arm—in the process. The effectiveness of both stars has as much to do with downshifting as it does explosion. It’s athleticism subtly manifest, understated and impossible to predict.

There are obvious differences between the two, starting most superficially with the fact that Cousins is a big-time rebounder and Harden an exceptional playmaker. No one would confuse one player for the other. What’s material is that both still produce in the same terms. That Cousins dances less with the ball or that Harden plays at a different pace doesn’t change the congruency in their shot charts. Both are working toward similar ends, which is in itself an incredible tribute to Cousins’ progression. It wasn’t long ago that shot selection was a genuine issue for Cousins, whose settling had undercut his potency. No more. Ill-advised shots still creep up from time to time, but even those looks have been redistributed toward far better returns. This is Cousins having his cake and eating it, too—an insatiable scorer taking the next step by changing the way he sets the table.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics

Nov 16, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Al Horford (42) works for the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30), center Zaza Pachulia (27) and forward Kevin Durant (35) in the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics

Nov 16, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts after being called for a foul against Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) (not pictured) in the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics Squeeze Past Warriors to Extend Winning Streak to 14

It felt like the buildup to Warriors-Celtics matchup had been going on for weeks. Steve Kerr showered the Celtics with praise before the game, both teams came into the game nursing winning streaks—the Celtics had won 13 in a row coming into Thursday night while the Warriors had won seven straight—and Boston came into the game with the NBA's best record at 13–2.

So what happened when the defending champions, who were averaging 117.5 points, came to the TD Garden to play the league's stingiest defense? The Celtic locked Golden State up, holding them to 40.2% shooting and pulling out a thrilling 92–88 win on national television. So what does this mean for Boston? Does the Eastern Conference now run through the TD Garden? Is masked and untucked jersey Kyrie Irving the best point guard in the league? Here are three thoughts from Thursday's game.

You can't score on the Celtics

Boston held the Warriors to 33 of 82 shots, and the way they did it was particularly impressive. The Celtics were in the Golden State players' shirts from tipoff. Jaylen Brown—more on him in a bit—was a defensive utility knife, hounding the Warriors' guards and wings to impactful results.

Listen to these stat lines from the Warriors best players: Steph Curry had nine points on 2 of 9 shooting, Klay Thompson shot 5 of 18 to finish with 13 points and Draymond went 3 of 11 for 11 points. The only player who really went off was Kevin Durant, and even he only managed 24 points. Marcus Smart and Brown were a problem for the Warriors all night, one they failed to solve.

Jaylen Brown's inspirational play

After the game, it came out that Brown was playing following the death of his best friend Trevin Steede, and that Boston coach Brad Stevens didn't even know if Brown would play in the game. Words couldn't possibly put this tragedy into context but this clip of Brown talking to reporters is heart-wrenching stuff.

Scoring 22 points in a big win comparatively feels small but Brown's strength should be highlighted.

Boston didn't even shoot well

The Celtics finished the game with a 32.9 shooting percentage ... in a win ... over the consensus best team in the league. Imagine what the score would have looked like if Kyrie had gotten loose and shot better than 4 of 16. (He still scored 16 points.) Brown's 22 points led the team, with every starter scoring in double digits and some great bench defense by Smart.

If this team's offense finds a way to catch up to its league-leading defense, the Celtics are going to be a problem.

Fun little note to add: the Celtics shot 38 free throws and made 33 while Warriors went 12 of 19. If Boston can keep doing the little things right, we might not be able to laugh them off in a series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, no matter what Charles Barkley says.

After friend's death, Brown fuels Celtics win over Warriors

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 16: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics takes a shot against Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors during the fourth quarter at TD Garden on November 16, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Warriors 92-88. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown (7) dunks over Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

FILE - In this June 12, 2017, file photo, Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, from left, guard Stephen Curry and forward Kevin Durant celebrate after Game 5 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland, Calif. The quiet, more under-the-radar Warriors All-Star of the bunch, is Thompson who has provided a steadying hand so far for the reigning champs as they work to find their groove again five months after toppling LeBron James and mighty Cleveland and hoisting a second trophy in three years. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant (35) drives past Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving (11) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)