Kevin Durant is one day going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and speak in front of legends in Springfield largely because of his incredible ability to make baskets. When you think of Durant, you almost hear the swish of the net and the groan of an embarrassed defender. He’s so good offensively that people often forget he’s a solid defender too. Durant doesn’t have to score another bucket to prove he’s an all-time bucket-getter. Durant loves punching defenses in the mouth and leaving them bloody.
And like most other superstars, his impact and effort on defense is often being underestimated. The Suns did not trade for Durant for his defense. Other teams in the past did not salivate over the prospect of trading for him primarily because they liked his rim protection. That kind of perception about Durant and other superstars in the NBA is intrinsic, and the Suns forward knows it.
“There’s this perception that guys that are superstars in this league don’t play defense,” Durant said when he recently spoke to reporters (via Gerald Bourguet 0f PHNX Sports). “Even though we can do whatever we want on offense, we still want to be able to make sure we’re there for our teammates on that other side of the ball.”
Durant’s defense could shine in the 2023-24 NBA season
With the Suns parting ways with Deandre Ayton and the acquisition of Jusuf Nurkic from the Portland Trail Blazers, there’s definitely going to be some shifts and changes in how Phoenix approaches things on that defensive side of the court. Nurkic isn’t a bad defender and if he’s worse or better than Ayton overall defensively, the margin isn’t all that big. Nevertheless, the frontcourt tandem of Durant and Ayton in the Suns frontcourt is an intriguing one.
Last season, Durant played for just eight games in the regular season with the Suns and in those contests, he averaged 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. With a full training camp with the Suns this time around, Durant has his role on both ends of the floor much more defined.