Kevin Durant becoming top-flight shotblocker for Golden State Warriors
From NBA media reports
* Tonight on TNT: Warriors vs. Spurs (8 ET)
Last January, Kevin Durant made it clear that his long-term goals with the Golden State Warriors included more than just scoring. He wanted to improve as a help defender and shotblocker with Golden State, something Durant is well on his way to this season.
The Warriors’ No. 2 scorer this season is also their No. 1 shotblocker, averaging 2.4 blocks per game, nearly a full block per game better than the career-best 1.6 bpg he averaged in 2016-17. Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle details how Durant has emerged as a top-flight defender:
With Durant helping anchor the interior, Golden State averages nearly two blocks per game more than any other team. A player known primarily for being one of the best scorers in NBA history is making a case for his first All-Defensive Team selection.
“It is pretty cool to be up there with some of the great shot-blockers and rim-protectors in the league,” said Durant, who ranks behind only Utah center Rudy Gobert — a Defensive Player of the Year candidate last season — in swats. “The cream will rise to the top as the season goes on, but hopefully I just continue to be there for my teammates.”
Kerr’s staff wasn’t overly concerned when, to sign Durant that summer, the front office moved forward without Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli. Frontcourt additions Zaza Pachulia and David West weren’t prototypical interior defenders like Bogut and Ezeli, but they were above-average positional defenders. Durant, playing the most power forward of his career, blossomed into the ideal defensive complement to Draymond Green.
With Durant rejecting a career-high 1.6 shots per game, Golden State easily paced the NBA in blocks. Adams told Durant this past summer that, to finally make All-Defensive Team, he needed to be more consistent. Though he made significant strides on defense last season, Durant had too often coasted to preserve energy for offense.
“If he’s really focused on fundamentally challenging shots,” Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams said, “it’s almost impossible to get a shot over him.”