Durant and Westbrook's Improvement Leads to All-NBA Nods
Durant finished second in overall points (591) and in first team votes (117) in the All-NBA voting, making the All-NBA First Team for the third straight season. In 2011-2012, Durant became just the seventh player in NBA history to capture three consecutive scoring titles, all while leading the Thunder with 18 double-doubles and registering a career-high 51 points on Feb. 19 vs Denver. Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks, however, says that the biggest reason for Durant’s extra success this season has been his play on the defensive end of the floor.
“Kevin’s a great defender,” Brooks said. “That’s what makes him a special player. He can play both ends of the floor.”
“Kevin has really improved as a two-way player,” Brooks continued. “And I think that is what over the last three years has taken our team to a different level and it takes his game to a different level.”
Ever the perfectionist, Durant wants to continue to improve as all-around player, increasing the career-best 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.2 blocks per game that he racked up this season, in addition to his 28.0 points per game.
“I just have to keep being aggressive,” Durant said. “Not aggressive to always score, but aggressive on the defensive end, aggressive to go get a rebound and also aggressive to make the right play. I just have to keep watching film and see how I can get better.”
Durant’s fellow team leader, Westbrook, received All-NBA second team honors for the second straight season. He finished ninth in total points (239) and in First Team votes (5) after a season in which he registered the fifth highest points per game average in the NBA (23.6 ppg) in addition to running the team from the point guard position.
“Russell is as talented as any point guard in this league,” Brooks said. “He’s quick, he’s powerful, his mid-range game is good. He takes it to the basket and finishes around the rim over bigs and through defenses. Then his three point shot, you have to respect it… Russell makes us very good with what he does with his talent and his skills and his work ethic. His determination, it’s hard to control, and he attacks and he’s forceful.”
Westbrook extended his consecutive games played streak to 312, best among active players, all while setting a career-high in field goal percentage this season at 45.7 percent. Whether it was his on-court decision making, leadership in locker room or focus in practice and the film room, Westbrook has improved across the board. The fourth-year guard hopes to continue that progression with the help of teammates like Durant.
“Coming in this year, I wanted to try to help my team and become a better leader,” Westbrook said. “Kevin [Durant] has done a great job of helping me out of staying positive regardless of what’s going on throughout the game, giving me confidence.”