Warriors

Durant: 'I'm never gonna get a look' at NBA Defensive Player of the Year

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AP

Durant: 'I'm never gonna get a look' at NBA Defensive Player of the Year

Kevin Durant was phenomenal defensively over the first 33 games last season. From Opening Night through Jan. 3, Durant averaged 2.3 blocks and 0.8 steals per contest for the Warriors.

After Golden State's Dec. 27 win over the Utah Jazz, Draymond Green declared that Durant should be the front-runner for NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

"I don't think it's really a race right now (with) the way he's playing on the defensive side of the ball," Draymond told reporters. "He's been spectacular. It's a thing now, which is impressive because it always seemed like it wasn't possible to be a thing. But he's getting more and more attention for that."

"It's cool that people are starting to recognize me for more than just a scorer," Durant said that night. "I've been trying to shake that rap since 2012. ... You want people to appreciate what you bring to the table."

The reality is that Durant's defense wasn't as strong when the calendar flipped to 2018, and the Warriors sputtered down the stretch. In the end, Durant did not win DPOY -- although he did receive two second-place votes and one third-place vote.

Was it a goal to win the award?

"You know they're not gonna give me anything," Durant said Monday on 95.7 The Game. "Even if it's on the fence, I have to be clear-cut better than everybody for me to even get a look.

"It's just pure hate for me, obviously, and no appreciation for my real skill for the game. But I get it. I understand where we coming from. I understand what we have here in this building that scares everybody.

"But for me, I was just proud of the growth that I had in that area. I just wanted to be able to be relied on to guard anybody -- whether it was helping guys at the rim, switching out onto point guards -- so I just tried to do everything. I feel like I grew so much on the defensive side of the ball last year.

"I feel like my whole game is unlocked now, when I was able to see the things I can do on that side of the basketball. ... I'm never gonna get a look when it comes to that, especially playing here for the Warriors."

Durant also fell short of making an All-Defensive team last season (he registered seven first-team and 17 second-team votes).

Perhaps this year he gets that nod for the first time in his career ...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Ex-Warrior Kevin Durant talks recovery from coronavirus, Achilles tear

Ex-Warrior Kevin Durant talks recovery from coronavirus, Achilles tear

June 11, 2019 was a date that forever altered Kevin Durant's NBA career. After missing the first four games of the NBA Finals with a calf injury, KD returned to the court for Game 5 in Toronto but tore his Achilles' tendon in the second quarter. The Warriors would go on to lose the series in six games to the Raptors, and Durant departed this past summer in free agency for the Brooklyn Nets.

While sitting out the 2019-20 season, KD became one of the first NBA players to test positive for the coronavirus in March. Durant recently caught up with The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears to discuss his recovery from both injury and illness.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"I was shocked. And then I was curious," Durant said about getting the coronavirus diagnosis. "I wanted to know what it meant. What is the virus about? I started to get information about it more and more. It calmed me down. … I was just more curious to what I was dealing with and how I could fight it myself.

"I feel good. I didn’t have any symptoms so I am good. I couldn’t leave the house. I knew things would change. The unknown was definitely difficult to deal with. But other than that, I was great."

The NBA suspended operations on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive. The league is returning to action in late July in Orlando with 22 teams completing the regular season and playoff schedule.

Durant's Brooklyn Nets are among the teams returning to the court this summer, but he maintains that he will be sticking with his initial plan to sit out the entire 2019-20 season.

"My season is over. I don’t plan on playing at all," Durant said. "We decided last summer when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season."

[RELATED: Why Warriors could benefit from unique 2019-20 NBA season calendar]

When it comes to the rehabilitation from that Achilles' tear, KD says things are on the right track for a return to the court next season.

"I’m doing well. Working out every day. I’m moving. I’m feeling like a normal player again. I’m just in my summertime routine. I’m working out every day and going to the gym in the morning. So, I feel good."

Kyrie Irving and Durant together at 100 percent on the court in Brooklyn could make for a dangerous combination.

Steve Kerr knows hard work just starting in fighting racial injustice

Steve Kerr knows hard work just starting in fighting racial injustice

The eyes of the world are on police brutality and institutional racism in the United States.

Protests have erupted around the world in the aftermath of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody last Monday, with demonstrators taking to the streets across the country and all over the globe ever since.

Outspoken Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday that the hard work is just beginning.

"I think that that's our job, really, is to make sure that it's not just a press conference and a Zoom call, and then back to normal business," Kerr said on NBC Sports Bay Area's "Race In America: A Candid Conversation." "I think what David (West) was talking about earlier (on the panel) was working with the grassroots organizations. I think being committed -- if you're a corporation, taking on that commitment of building a relationship with these grassroots organizations.

"Not just, 'Hey, here's a check for [$5,000], we're proud of you.' Build a relationship with the grassroots organizations, build a relationship with city government and continue this work. That's the whole key, and that's what I'm going to try to do. That's what the (NBA) coaches association is doing. We're trying to build lasting relationships so that the work can continue, even beyond the emotion of the aftermath of something like this."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died last Monday after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer who has since been fired, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe. Chauvin was arrested a week ago, and he has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three officers at the scene were arrested this week and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd's death occurred within months of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman, and Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African American man, also dying. Louisville police fatally shot Taylor in her home, while two white men allegedly followed and murdered Arbery as he jogged in his Georgia neighborhood.

The NBA has the highest percentage of African American players of any of the four "major" professional sports in the United States, and it's also the closest to returning since the leagues paused their seasons in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA Players Association approved the league's plan to return to the court Friday, agreeing to resume the season beginning in late July at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex with a 22-team format.

Former Warriors big man David West doesn't think the NBA season resuming to the court will stop players from speaking out.

"I think [commissioner Adam Silver] gives guys the space and the room to be people," West said Friday. "I would expect him to be, or the NBA to be in that same vein. I don't think they're gonna try to restrict guys. I think they'll talk it through with guys -- a lot of guys are flustered. They don't know what to say. They know what they feel, they know what they're seeing is not right, but they don't know what to say. The NBA does a good job of helping guys with their message, so I don't think that there's gonna be some restriction.

"I think that players, as they are compelled, will continue to lend their voice because ... [the] grassroots organizations have to do the work, the elected officials have to do the work. We have to do our part in terms of being citizens, but I just think that the players are too in-tune to just turn it off and go back to playing basketball. I think guys want to be a part of the narrative in terms of changing this society and pointing it in a different direction."

[RELATED: Kerr criticizes Trump for 'drawing battle lines' for election]

Protests will continue before the NBA season tips off again, and Kerr is encouraged by those who are leading the way on the ground. When Kerr looks at demonstrations, he sees a young, diverse coalition making their voices heard.

That gives him hope for the days ahead.

"I have great faith in the younger generation that's coming up behind us," Kerr said. "David mentioned this: They're more connected than any generation before them (because of social media). They're also more diverse. Just naturally, the demographics in this country are changing dramatically. What I've seen in my kids' lives, hearing their stories, watching the protests and seeing the diversity that's involved in these protests, I think the young generation is just ... looking at the older generation and they know that we're full of you know what.

"They just do. I mean, how could you not, right? And I think they want a different future, and I think they're gonna get it. I believe in the way they've educated themselves, how tolerant they are, how different they've been raised compared to us 30, 40 years ago. So, I have great faith in the young generation and in the coming decades, I think they're gonna get a lot more things done than we've ever been able to do."