Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant has never been a player lauded for his defense, but assistant coach Ron Adams, the sculptor of Golden State’s smothering D, believes this season may be the one in which that changes.
During an interview with CSNBayArea’s Monte Poole, Adams gushed over the prospect of Durant in his defensive system, even going as far to call him a “terrific defender.”
“His versatility is outstanding,” Ron Adams says of Durant. “He’s a terrific defender, who played with great defensive consistency in our playoff series. We will expect a lot out of him in that regard.”
“He can, if necessary, guard all five positions – and do it effectively,” Adams says of Durant, who spent most of the conference finals smothering Warriors forward Draymond Green.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr also chimed in, revealing where he plans to slot Durant for the bulk of his minutes.
“He’s a really good rim protector, in a non-traditional way,” Kerr says. “When he played the ‘four’ against us in the playoffs, he was brilliant. He blocked some shots and he scored a bunch of times. So he’ll play a lot of ‘four’ for us, for sure.”
Durant’s combination of size and athleticism will aid him in becoming an imposing force on defense for the Dubs, but anyone who has watched KD throughout the years know he has a tendency to have lapses on that end. His inexcusable episodes of inattentiveness that lead to easy buckets for the opposition must cease if Golden State intends to keep their defense humming around top-three territory again this season.
When locked-in, Durant has a defensive acuity that is almost unmatched for a guy of his stature. It’s sustaining that mentality for the duration of the season that Adams and Kerr hope to see. If anybody, or any team, can pry it out of Durant, you’d think it’d be these guys.
Golden State will still employ a switch-happy scheme, which will force Durant to guard players of all shapes and sizes, so the possibility of his full defensive potential being tapped into is certainly real, it’s just something he needs to fully embrace.
In the Western Conference Finals you saw Durant not only stifle the likes of Draymond Green, but OKC as a whole push the defending champs to the brink with their ferocious pace and copious amounts of vigor. That’s what the Warriors want to see from Durant this season: rage and focus on the end that ultimately determines winners.
If anybody knows this, it’s the Warriors, who were denied a championship literally and figuratively by LeBron James.