Kevin Durant has placed an emphasis on the defensive side of the floor this season. The Golden State Warriors‘ superstar has straight up said that he wants be an All-NBA defender this season, which is a departure from earlier in his career when he was considered a liability on the defensive side of the floor.
As it turns out, Durant’s biggest rival not named “Russell” can see that a switch has flipped in the former MVP. LeBron James saw how Durant’s defense has evolved during their Christmas Day showdown, and had nothing but praise for the Warriors’ star.
James, who gets the best defenders put on him every single night, told Monte Poole of NBC Sports that Durant is right up there with Kawhi Leonard when it comes to the best defensive small forwards in the game, and may actually be at the top of the list.
“He’s right up there, if not the best,” James said. “Kawhi (Leonard) is up there.”
Durant’s defense on James in their head-to-head battle was very good, as the Cavaliers’ star went for 20 points on 7-for-18 shooting with seven turnovers. There was plenty of controversy regarding how Durant defended James down the stretch, though, as it looked like he got away with a few fouls that should have been called against the best player in the world.
Still, anyone who has watched Durant evolve as a basketball player can see that he has become a legitimate force on that end of the floor, using his size, length, and athleticism as a way to terrorize opponents. For proof, just ask LeBron James.