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OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant's defensive versatility an added bonus

Thunder coach Scott Brooks feels comfortable enough, at some point in each game, to let Durant have a crack at defending players such as Blake Griffin, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Marc Gasol. That’s four superstars with four completely different skill sets, styles and positions.
by Anthony Slater Published: March 5, 2014

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Quietly, Durant has steadily improved his defense the past couple seasons. Beyond the obvious numbers – he’s averaging a career-high 1.5 steals and blocks nearly a shot per game – Durant passes the eye test.

He looks bigger and stronger. He’s sturdier against post guys. He’s laterally quicker against guards. He’s more consistently in tune on that end, hustling back more often and communicating louder.

Caron Butler, the Thunder’s newest member, even mentioned how impressed he was that Durant was so vocal and involved in the Thunder’s pregame and in-game defensive planning and adjustments.

“He takes pride on that end,” Brooks said.

And because of that improvement and versatility, Durant provides the Thunder with lineup flexibility.

Brooks can go small and put Durant on a big or go big and put Durant on a small.

“Not just guys that can attack,” Brooks said. “He can guard spot-up guys, he can guard pindown guys, he can guard post-up guys. It’s a credit to his growth as a player.”

More than ever, Brooks can dictate the game based off feel and play increasingly more unique lineups, trusting Durant will fill in the defensive holes.

“I think that’s where, really, he’s taken his game to another level,” Brooks said. “He impacts the game defensively.”

Much more than in year’s past.

by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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