The unspoken greatness of Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is a two-time champion and a two-time Finals MVP, widely regarded as one of the best players in the world. Despite all his achievements and accolades though, his greatness and his position on the all-time list is often questioned. The skepticism is not because of his game, but because of the circumstances.
The move from Oklahoma City Thunder to the Golden State Warriors was an extremely weak move considering the stature of Durant. He moved to an already stacked team that beat them the previous year and completely upset the balance of power in the NBA.
As a result, the Golden State Warriors are an automatic favorite to win the title, as long as they've got a healthy team together. This move angered a lot of pundits, players, and fans. As such, Kevin Durant has received a lot of criticism, and some of it is deserved.
Where it gets unfair though, is how people start to diminish his greatness as a result of this move. Kevin Durant has averaged 27 points a game in his career with great efficiency inside the arc, outside the arc and also from the free throw line.
He had a 50/40/90 season even before he came to Golden State. He can handle the ball like a guard and shoot over most players with his release. He might just be the most complete scorer the game has ever seen.
Sacrifices on the individual level:
Kevin Durant was a four-time scoring champion and a league MVP during his time at the Oklahoma City Thunder. For the sake of winning Championships, he's sacrificed his numbers a little bit and inserted himself into a free-flowing offense where ball movement is vital, and the open player takes the shot.
As such, he's attempted fewer shots every game and his averages have gone down a bit, despite his consistent efficiency. This sacrifice and end ambition should be appreciated and respected.
An improved two-way player:
Kevin Durant has always been a prolific scorer with a diverse range of shots in his arsenal. He has been criticized for his efforts on the defensive end of the floor though. Despite being almost 7 feet tall with a wingspan of 7' 5'', he never really put effort into his defensive game, struggling with isolated and team defense.
Since his move to Golden State though, Durant has stepped up his defense to an All-Star level serving as an efficient rim protector for the team. He has averaged 1.7 blocks per game at Golden State, which is a significant increase from his time with the Thunder.
He is continuing to work on this side of the game and could find himself in the All-Defensive team this upcoming season.
Best player in the Finals:
Durant has stepped up in two consecutive Finals, standing out as the best player in both the series. His numbers over 9 games are: 32.3 points/game, 9.5 rebounds/game, 6.3 assists/game, 1.9 blocks/game and 0.9 steals/game.
These figures are off the charts, and he's managed to pull his team out of bad situations a few times in these series. His late-game deep three in the 2017 Finals is the signature moment of his career, and it will go down as one of the greatest shots ever made in the Finals.
Overall, based on what he's achieved and the progression his career is taking, Kevin Durant is going to end up on the list of top ten players of all time, with a chance to even break into the top five. It is high time that the hate he gets, stops translating into his greatness being questioned.