With Durant’s Thunder set to face Leonard’s Spurs in the second round, how does Durant feel about Leonard now?
Durant, via Travis Singleton:
He’s definitely grown as a player. He’s not a system player. I know you guys like to throw that word, that term, around.
But he’s just grown so much as a player, a guy that can – I have to be locked in every play. He can shoot the mid-range. He can post up. He can shot the 3. He can dribble. He’s just grown so much as a player. Defensively, probably one of the best guys in the league.
So, it’s fun. It’s fun when you get that matchup at the small forward. There’s so many great guys, but he’s one of the guys that’s in the top tier.
Does Durant regret his 2014 tweets? Durant, via Singleton:
No I don’t. At the time, I didn’t even call him a system player. I just said Paul George was better. I like Paul George better as a player. I can be a fan of the game, too. And I thought Paul George – one of my guys was debating with me and said that he was better than Paul George at the time, and I didn’t think so.
I’m not taking back. I said the system is the reason he’s out there. Pop put him in great positions to be the player that he is. So, I don’t regret it at all.
He’s grown. It’s three years ago. If he hasn’t grown, that’s on him. But he’s grown as a player.
And, yeah, I don’t take it back.
Durant was wrong two years ago. Gregg Popovich certainly helped Leonard, and the coach would’ve helped George, too. But answering whether Leonard would’ve excelled with the Pacers with a flat “no” was ridiculous. Leonard was already awesome and would’ve been with any team.
Now, the Leonard-George debate – an interesting one in 2014 – has ended. As impressive as George has been in his return from injury, Leonard has passed him.
Durant recognizes that, and he’ll get to see first-hand starting tomorrow.