- NBA players are amazed by Kevin Durant’s scoring ability.
- Many players have said he is unfazed by defense, and there is nothing defenders can do to stop him.
- At long last, Durant is the near-unanimous best player in the NBA.
It is a fruitless task trying to stop Kevin Durant.
Or moreover, he makes it look like a fruitless task, and that alone has a lingering effect on the opposition.
Durant has long been regarded as one of the best scorers in the league and NBA history. Now, with LeBron James having finally taken a break from annual Finals runs and perhaps showing his age, Durant might be the best player in the NBA, full stop.
But listen to Durant’s peers, and it becomes apparent that they view Durant’s combination of skills — his shooting stroke, ball-handling, quickness, height, and length — as a cocktail of pure dominance.
“He almost doesn’t count,” recently retired NBA player JJ Redick said on an ESPN media call. “When we talk about the best players in the NBA, we go down the list … whoever the best player is, he’s honestly 1B because Kevin is always going to be 1A. There’s really nobody that has his skill set.”
Redick detailed Durant’s skills and said defenders really have no effect on the outcome of a Durant shot.
“His size, again, is just remarkable,” Redick said. “And to be able to handle the ball and get to a spot that way, you really just can’t stop him.
“I made the comparison the other day on the podcast. The only other player I saw that was really like that was Kobe. It wasn’t so much the defense could faze Kobe, or the defense can faze Kevin — they’re either going to make the shot, or they’re going to miss the shot.”
Redick isn’t the first person to say this. In a poll of GMs by The Athletic in 2021, Durant was named the NBA’s best scorer. An anonymous GM said the same thing as Redick.
“KD is either going to make or miss shots, and you will have nothing to do with it,” said the GM, who voted Durant as the “purest” scorer.
Durant averages 28 points per game this season, on a remarkable effective field goal percentage of 63.6%. Nikola Jokic is the only other player averaging over 25 points per game with an eFG above 60.
But beyond the stats, perhaps what’s most amazing about Durant is how helpless he leaves other players feeling.
The best basketball players in the world are even amazed with how unfazed Durant is
Redick’s podcast, “The Old Man and the Three,” has become one of the premier destinations for NBA players to openly discuss the game, their careers, and players around the league.
Listen to enough interviews, and it becomes clear that Durant is held in different regard by his peers. Specifically, the way he is completely unfazed by what the defense is doing.
“He’s unreal,” Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday said on Redick’s podcast. “He makes the game look so easy. Nothing fazes him, how he plays. Yes, he’s 7 feet, but it’s like he doesn’t see anybody. It’s just like him and the hoop. It’s like cone drills. Like if you’re just gonna go work out and get into your bag and work on something, that’s his game. Nobody fazes him. It’s amazing to see.”
Blake Griffin, who joined the Nets midseason in 2021, echoed Holiday’s point in another episode of Redick’s podcast.
“He’s just so unaffected by any defender. I have never seen a player be less affected by somebody than Kevin Durant,” Griffin said.
Griffin is a six-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA Team member. At one point in his career, he was a top-10 player. Players of his stature don’t easily dole out compliments. He said he is routinely impressed by Durant.
“He does stuff all the time where you’re just like, ‘What? How’d he just–?’
“Honestly, the stuff that’s most impressive to me is the dribble-dribble, pull-up, midrange with a hand in his face, and just hit it.”
Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala also mentioned the combination of Durant’s skills and height on an episode of Redick’s podcast.
“He’s 7-feet tall, and the way he handles the ball and the way he shoots the ball is like nothing else I’ve seen … There’s nothing you can do,” Iguodala said. “You stand not a chance.”
Last season, the Warriors experienced this first-hand when they played against Durant for the first time in four years. Durant’s production was modest (by his standards) in two games against Golden State last year, averaging 22 points, but he was a remarkable +46 in those two games — dominant.
Green walked away from that game saying Durant cannot be stopped.
“No one in the world can stop him,” Green told reporters. “And, after playing him tonight, I still don’t think anyone in the world can stop him.”
The Athletic previously reported that Durant coveted the title of Best Player in the World and felt bitter that many still viewed LeBron James as No. 1.
Perhaps to players, Durant was the most unstoppable player all along. Now, at last, he is widely recognized as a whole new level of dominance.
“From my perspective, as a player, my peers’ perspective,” Redick said, “He’s the best player in the NBA, and everybody else is sort of competing for that second spot.”