Back in late January, Kevin Durant put on an impressive show in Miami, burning the Heat for 33 points and leading the Thunder to a win.
And after the game, Heat star LeBron James pointed to one of Durant’s most overlooked skills as something that impressed him most.
“His handle is great,” James told reporters postgame. “His handle is up there with CP3, (Derrick) Rose and Steph Curry.”
High praise for Durant. And an area of his game that has quietly elevated him to new heights during recent years.
A born scorer, Durant has developed rare dribbling ability for a guy as tall as most NBA centers.
“Coming from where I come from in DC, all we did was streetball a lot,” Durant said. “All these different crossovers, these different moves.”
But early on in his playing days, Durant’s size became a bit of burden when it came to ballhandling. Once he started playing organized basketball and began developing into his wiry 6-foot-11 frame, coaches started to plant that rare height in the interior.
“Me being so tall, I got away from it and I played below the basket all the way up until I got to the league,” Durant said. “So I had to work on it and bring it back, and I’ve been working on it for years.”
On Monday against the Nuggets, Durant put those slithery moves on display, shaking Denver forward Darrell Arthur with a pair of quick-twitch crossover, before finishing him off with a feathery and-1.
The latest example of his constantly evolving game.
THABO AND PERKINS TRAVEL
For the first time since being sidelined with injuries, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins traveled with the Thunder on its most recent road trip.
It was only a one-game trek down to nearby Dallas, with proximity likely playing a factor, but the fact that they traveled is a sign of progress.
Coach Scott Brooks recently said the two are getting closer, but they still have not participated in practice or shootaround with the team. Just individual work.
But Perkins told the Associated Press that he’s aiming for an April 4 return, when Oklahoma City plays at Houston.
FISHER THE COACH?
Derek Fisher says he has no desire to coach. But some of his teammates think the Ancient Mariner is destined to coach once his playing days are over.
If any Thunder player is destined for that kind of move, it’s Fisher, who at 39 is a virtual player-coach. Fisher says he has no interest in coaching, and he also says this is his final season. He’s ready to watch his kids grow up. Of course, Fisher could coach in college and be at home a lot more than the extended-road trip life in the NBA.
But either way, some of Fisher’s teammates think he can’t avoid the call to coach.
“We always say Fish will coach,” said Perry Jones. “I think he’d make a great coach, to be honest. He’s wise. He knows the game really well. I think he’d make a great coach, if he would coach. He can write a speech on the drop of a dime.”
Reggie Jackson chimed in, “a movie speech.”
Certainly, Fisher is eloquent and thoughtful with what he says. And he knows the game. And he has a solid demeanor. In fact, if you drew up a list of attributes of an NBA player to become a solid coach, Fisher would be what you look for.
“Some people, they can do it,” Jackson said of players migrating to coaching. “D-Fish is one of those. I always joke with him. He’s running away from it. I think it’s one of those things, destined for him. He has that natural knack, feel.”