Kevin Durant hopes to become an All-NBA defender

By @saihoops on
Kevin Durant
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts after a play against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Reuters/Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant has won four scoring titles in his career, besides capturing the prestigious NBA MVP and NBA Finals MVP awards. But Durant has set himself a new goal for the 2017-18 season: become an All-NBA defender. 

Although Durant has never been known for his on-ball defence, he's often disrupted shooters at the perimeter with his 7-foot-6 wingspan. Since joining the Warriors last offseason, Durant has stressed on excelling on the other end of the floor. After averaging a career-high 1.6 blocks per game last season, Durant is currently rejecting nearly three shots per game.

In a chat with ESPN, Durant explained the reason behind his motivation to excel on the defensive end. "I've been a scorer my whole life. I've been a one-on-one player my whole life. All I've thought about in the past was different ways to score, rather than different ways to impact the game. Since 2012-13, I've been trying to figure out ways to impact the game outside of scoring.

"Defence started to creep in there probably two years before I got to the Warriors. Defence started to become a focal point for me where I wanted to be trusted. I didn't want to be the guy where all the film clips are about how they back-doored me, or how someone drove around me or how I'm not contesting shots. I was more so just nervous about being called out during film sessions. That's why I wanted to get better," Durant, who helped the Warriors capture the 2016-17 NBA championship, said. 

Kevin Durant is averaging 2.5 blocks per game

Durant, currently second in the league in blocks behind Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert, hopes to make one of the two NBA All-Defensive teams at the end of the season. Last year, Durant narrowly missed out on the All-Defensive second team, according to several reports. 

"I just want to be counted on by my coaches and my teammates in those situations. I don't want my coach to have to pull me out the game in situations in the fourth quarter because I can't play defence and then they need to go to a defence-offense [substitution pattern]. I don't want to be that player. I never wanted to be that player. So that's what I feared more than anything."

Kevin Durant is averaging 24.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.5 blocks in his eleventh season in the league. Durant is also shooting a career-high three-point percentage of .464. The Warriors are overwhelming favourites to repeat as NBA champions next July.