But Durant insists the added attention, and the external expectations, haven't affected him.
â€œI think I'm doing pretty well, to be honest,â€ Durant said. â€œI don't know what people what me to do or how good they want me to be. But I can't worry about that. I just have to worry about how I'm playing. I could play a little better.â€
While it's still early, all-around consistency and clutch play has eluded Durant. Only once this season has Durant assembled a dominant fourth quarter â€” a rather alarming fact considering five of the Thunder's wins have come by seven points or less. That one shining moment came against Portland in Oklahoma City, when Durant scored 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting. In the other nine games that Durant has played in the fourth quarter or overtime, he's averaging just 5.3 points on 31.1 percent shooting.
â€œI don't worry about his shooting percentage,â€ said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. â€œThat's all going to work itself out in the shots that he gets and the minutes that he will get. He just has to continue to work on the little things that will continue to make him a special player for a lot of years. That's a consistent defensive mentality. That's rebounding and helping your teammates and blocking shots. That's an important part of who he is. He wants to be a two-way player.â€
Brooks said any pressure Durant feels comes from within.
â€œI don't see the outside expectations getting to him,â€ Brooks said. â€œThat's just part of it. We all have to deal with it. But you should always have expectations on yourself, how you play and how you perform every night. And Kevin is hard on himself.â€
In addition to navigating his way toward becoming a better set-up man, Durant said he is still learning how to be effective despite the entire defense focusing so much on him that he compared it to playing â€˜five on one.â€ Playing hard on both ends for an entire game, Durant said, also has been an adjustment, but one he knows every great player must eventually grasp.
â€œIt's very important to me,â€ Durant said of his desire to evolve into one of the league's best and most complete players. â€œI work so hard and that's the kind of player I want to be. I want to be one of the bestâ€¦I got a lot of work to do. But hopefully I can get there. I just got to continue to keep pushing.â€