Many players throughout the NBA believe they would have won some award or received some honor if they played on a better team with more exposure.
And then there’s Kevin Durant, who plays for the Warriors, the NBA’s best and maybe most popular team.
Durant on Defensive Player of the Year, as transcribed by Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area:
“You know they’re not gonna give me anything,” Durant said Monday on 95.7 The Game. “Even if it’s on the fence, I have to be clear-cut better than everybody for me to even get a look.
“It’s just pure hate for me, obviously, and no appreciation for my real skill for the game. But I get it. I understand where we coming from. I understand what we have here in this building that scares everybody.
“But for me, I was just proud of the growth that I had in that area. I just wanted to be able to be relied on to guard anybody — whether it was helping guys at the rim, switching out onto point guards — so I just tried to do everything. I feel like I grew so much on the defensive side of the ball last year.
“I feel like my whole game is unlocked now, when I was able to see the things I can do on that side of the basketball. … I’m never gonna get a look when it comes to that, especially playing here for the Warriors.”
That’s a whole lot of persecution complex. And it’s only fueled by his teammates.
Draymond Green said last December Durant was running away with Defensive Player of the Year. Ultimately, Durant finished ninth in voting for the award, which Jazz center Rudy Gobert won.
But Durant didn’t deserve Defensive Player of the Year. Durant expanded his defensive abilities, improving as a rim-protector – commendable, but not as valuable considering slippage elsewhere. He wasn’t as sharp overall as a defensive rebounder and perimeter defender, even though he put those previously existing skills to use at times.
There’s no wider agenda here. In two seasons since joining Golden State, Durant has won two NBA Finals MVPs (which he acknowledged). He has made the All-NBA first team and All-NBA second team. And he has finished seventh and ninth in MVP voting.
Durant gets a lot of credit, because he deserves a lot of credit. He just didn’t come close to deserving Defensive Player of the Year.