With the growing PED attention that the NBA and NFL is getting these days, somebody needs to test Kevin Durant.
No, I’m not serious, but there’s something different about KD’s game of late, that is a bit edgier and more masculine than when he first arrived in Golden State to equal amounts of criticism and fanfare. He looks stronger. More confident. And his on-court aggression has tripled in my opinion. I see a little Russell Westbrook in his game, believe it or not, and that can't be a bad thing.
Check out Wednesday night's stat line in a blowout win over the Toronto Raptors: 22 points, a season-high 17 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks .
KD has always been somewhat of a media trash talker. He's just never been much of a closer. The tumultuous relationship with Westbrook over the years was well documented and Durant’s willingness to share the hardships of their relationship with the media didn’t help.
The way Durant kicked Russ in the back and basically called him a selfish player on the way out the door following a Western Conference Finals collapse for the ages -- one that left blood on both players' hands -- kind of made me feel like KD was becoming a chump.
Their first meeting this season was real icy and both players took subliminal shots at each other. KD got into with Enes Kanter of all dudes and tried to diss Kanter in the postgame press conference by clowning the big man's limited playing time.
I felt like KD was getting real catty, especially considering his failures in the playoffs and the fact that his only focus should be adjusting to his news digs and winning a championship with Golden State.
Maybe he was just uncomfortable and still finding his way because that pettiness has transformed into all-out rage on the league. If he continues to play with the passion and understanding that he’s been performing with, he might truly be the missing piece to a Golden State Dynasty.
In the past, it seemed like Durant was overcompensating at times. Playing the fake tough guy.
I like it better when he overcompensates by trying to dunk over a 7-footer from the foul line like he recently did to Kevin Love and Brook Lopez in December games.
Even when he misses the dunk, his raging passion to get to the hoop and not only score but obliterate his competition is refreshing and desired by a large majority of basketball purists. When he gets on his Shawn Kemp and goes baseline and yams it on someone, KD truly is a candidate for most lethal offensive weapon of the decade.
Maybe he needs to be angry more often like he was in the fourth quarter against Utah earlier this month.
That’s the KD I live to see. That's the KD we have seen from time to time over the years and the player we would have seen more often a long time ago if he played in another era. It’s fancy and cool to shoot threes all day now, but Durant elevates his game into that Top 3 player sphere when he has a chip on his shoulder and is motivated to go warp- speed-gorilla to the hoop.
He just can't seem to sustain that intensity and it only comes against certain guys. And we know how he has fallen in love with the jumper at the worst times in past playoffs. It’s great that he’s channeling his inner Draymond Green, getting some edge to him and providing the Warriors with a much-needed inside presence when he chooses.
KD could always blast on suckers in the paint and fans have begged him to turn up his Moses Malone and tone down his Dirk Nowitzki.
However, Durant is a product of today’s more “friendly” NBA, where arch rivals post Twitter Grams of each other hanging out and the like. But the last Cavs-Warriors game gave us a sweet and promising glimpse into what should be a classic NBA Finals with two teams who don’t like each other and a polarizing superstar who put his honor, integrity and legacy on the line to come to Golden State.
Durant’s a bit ornery these days. He’s tired of hearing the criticisms and players trying to chump him on the hardwood. Earlier in the season I said that everybody was changing their games to accommodate Durant when it should be the other way around. Well, he’s finding his niche with this Golden State team.
Of course, it’s to add another lethal scoring assassin that can go for a half dollar on any given night. But believe it or not, KD is adding a grit and a power game to Dub Nation's pretty posse of rainbow launchers. I don't know about you, but I think it’s the best thing that could happen for KD, the NBA and the Golden State Warriors right now.