Kevin Durant is widely regarded as one of the two best players in the NBA today. Some believe he is in the No. 1 spot, others have him at No. 2. Either way, his place in the league’s hierarchy is secure.
At 33 years old, Durant has now been a top-tier NBA star for 14 years. Sustained excellence for an extended period of time like that is not easy.
How has he done it?
By making one key tweak to his game that has served him well ever since.
That tweak? Developing a consistent three-point shot to keep pace with the sport’s development.
“It’s just the evolution of the game,” he said this week at the Brooklyn Nets’ media day. “I’ve played against different schemes and strategies out there. Coaches are working nonstop to try to figure out a new way to play the game, and I feel like I have to be on that same page. I got to sort of catch what’s going on in the game of basketball just like a coach would, and I think that’s what my development is.”
“It went from playing a slower pace when I first got to the league to now playing a fast pace, 3-point style,” he added. “So I think I’ve adjusted to that. Whatever happens next, I’ll be ready.”
Beyond that, Durant has also started letting the game come to him.
“[When you are younger] you want to establish yourself in the league,” he continued. “Sometimes you may overthink it and may think too much about reactions and opinions of others because you are on the journey to perfection. But start to relax a little bit and understand what this is about and understand the long game, and it definitely made my mental a little bit more at ease coming to the gym every day and not focusing on that stuff.”
Durant’s offseason body transformation has captured a lot of headlines in recent weeks, as his apparent affinity for weed. But all those things are distractions. Clearly his focus is on winning a championship this year and everything beyond that is simply noise.
Actions have consequences. https://t.co/soa76PJdJ5
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 30, 2021
A lot of that will obviously depend on whether he can successfully convince teammate Kyrie Irving to get vaccinated, which it sounds like he will, but some of it will also just come down to how far he can carry this Nets group. And if history is any indication, the answer is: pretty far.
As things currently stand, the Nets are the favorites to win a title in most sports books right now. Will they ultimately be able to live up to those expectations? Time will tell.