How does he justify that unpopular opinion?
Durant, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:
“That’s how I feel. And he feels the same about me,” Durant said. “We hold each other on that pedestal. That’s what makes us great teammates. I believe he’s the best player in the world, and he believes the same about me. Of course I’m gonna say that. There’s gonna be nights where I’m the best player on the team. There’s gonna be nights where he’s the best player on the team, when Dion (Waiters) is the best player on the team. That’s how I feel about my teammates. A lot of people may read into it but any given night it’s different.”
On the surface, it’s nice that teammates are supporting each other. Westbrook has called Durant world’s best player, so this is more than just hearsay. Durant and Westbrook clearly share a deep respect for each other.
But there is a damaging element to this dynamic. Durant too often defers to Westbrook, who is not shy about shooting no matter how good his teammates are. The problem has gotten significantly better, but it still pops up.
It’s reasonable to wonder: If Durant weren’t so smitten by Westbrook’s ability, would Durant shoot more – and would that make the Thunder better? I tend to think the answer to both questions is yes, but it’d also be foolish to discount the chemistry Durant fosters by so strongly vocalizing his praise for Westbrook.