It’s been a hot minute since the media went crazy over Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant. For much of the 2020-21 NBA regular season and the earlier part of the playoffs, fans and analysts have talked about LeBron James or Luka Doncic. But lo and behold, the media favorites are nowhere near the title chase. After Durant’s 49-point explosion against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, fans and analysts declared him the best player in the world right now.
Is Kevin Durant wearing the crown for NBA’s best player?
Even if you’re a Durant hater, you’d still nod your head to this statement. James has held this crown for a long while. But the Lakers’ early exit was a clear sign of his decline to lead. Among those still in the postseason, perhaps Giannis Antetokounmpo is the one who can challenge for this title. After all, he’s a two-time MVP and has a Defensive Player of the Year trophy on his shelf. The Bucks also look as hungry as ever after several disappointing playoff campaigns.
However, all the hype surrounding Giannis and the Bucks went down the drain after Durant’s explosion. Let’s not forget that the Bucks are the number one defensive team in the playoffs with a 102.1 defensive rating. Do they say defense wins titles? It seems that that adage doesn’t apply when Durant is around.
A 49-point triple-double. Just incredible.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) June 16, 2021
There’s really no other player like the Slim Reaper. Here you have one of the smoothest strokes in the game, laced with incredible handles, all in a seven-foot frame. It’s hilarious how head coach Mike Budenholzer assigns PJ Tucker to guard him. Yes, the veteran guard can get physical and get into his mind. But there’s no way Tucker can stop Durant when he rises up for those perimeter jumpers. Even if Tucker fully extends his arms, his hands still can’ reach Durant’s head.
Enough about his offense because it’s pretty much common sense that Durant is the best scorer in NBA history. Let’s talk a bit about his defense which has been vastly snubbed over the years. It was actually Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr who first pointed out how great of a defensive presence Durant is. His wingspan has not only enabled him to swat shots but also deflect passes. In fact. Durant averages 2.8 deflections in the playoffs which falls within the top 10. In terms of contested 3-point shots, he averages 4.1 per game which ranks ninth in the playoffs.
It’s unfortunate that fans only noticed Durant after his 49-point outburst in Game 5. The truth is, Durant has always fallen within the Top 2 of the Best Player in the World crown. The series of injuries which caused him to miss some games might’ve washed him away from our consciousness. And of course, his questionable move to the 73-win Warriors squad will forever be brought up when discussing his legacy.
But at the end of the day, we watch basketball mainly for entertainment. And every time Kevin Durant steps onto the hard court, it’s almost a guarantee that we’ll have our money’s worth. We are witnessing an athlete who has perfected his craft and is still getting better. This after all the criticism thrown at him for joining a powerhouse squad. We should be thankful that Durant is still playing at the highest level. It’s a cliche but there a lot of truth in it when we say we may never see another one like Kevin Durant.