Kevin Durant was incredible during his nine years with the Oklahoma City Thunder (his rookie season was with the Seattle SuperSonics).
He led the franchise to the NBA Finals in 2012, won four scoring titles, was named NBA MVP in 2013-14 and took home First-Team All-NBA honors five straight years from 2010 to 2014.
Yet, he became a better all-around basketball player during his three seasons with the Warriors. The main reason for that is the two-time NBA Finals MVP improved on the defensive end of the floor.
"I learned a lot from watching guys like Andre Iguodala -- how he used his hands in the paint when guys were going up to shoot," KD said on a recent Instagram Live. "I watched Draymond (Green) -- the timing of when he would leave somebody on the perimeter to go help on the post.
"That little stuff I just tried to take from each and every one of those defenders I played with."
Kevin Durant on his improved defense when he was with the Warriors:— Chris Montano (@gswchris) June 24, 2020
“I learned a lot from watching guys like Andre Iguodala, how he used his hands... I watched Draymond...” pic.twitter.com/CuVCndKJnd
Durant averaged career highs in rebounds (8.3) and blocks (1.6) during his first season in a Dubs uniform. Remember Game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals when he racked up 11 defensive rebounds, five blocks and three steals?
Kevin Durant in Game 2 of the 2017 Finals = 33 points (13-for-22, 4-for-8 3s), 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 5 blocks. Holy f’ing sh** he was unreal amazing pic.twitter.com/apHkfo3tZm— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 27, 2020
Kevin Durant. Hahaha. Just silly. The Basketball Gods better return him to full strength pic.twitter.com/oSjd0ryzou— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 27, 2020
Did you forget that KD averaged 2.3 blocks over the Warriors' first 38 games in 2017-18?
1) this finish by Steph is AMAZING— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) January 28, 2018
2) this hustle/contest from Durant is awesome pic.twitter.com/AUNtNlWzyI
Steph Curry is struggling big time tonight yet look how pumped he gets for this Kevin Durant monster block... pic.twitter.com/Eq0Cu8t8Et— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) February 15, 2018
Jonathan Tjarks of TheRinger.com wrote an article in February 2018 with the headline: "Kevin Durant's Defensive Player of the Year candidacy isn't perfect, but it's real."
It ended up not being real, but that's not the point.
KD was a sponge and took advantage of being teammates with guys who can do stuff like this:
Andre Iguodala was worth every penny and more to the Warriors. Dude was so awesome pic.twitter.com/JbrIggNwFY— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) April 17, 2020
Don’t you EVER forget that Klay Thompson’s wild go-ahead 3-pointer in Game 6 at OKC was set up by an Andre Iguodala steal + assist pic.twitter.com/PveRd1emLE— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) April 26, 2020
Don’t ever forget that Iguodala stripped LeBron as he was about to attempt a potential game-tying 3-pointer in the corner ... pic.twitter.com/q8JRLImwqx— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) April 16, 2020
Andre Iguodala was a MENACE on the defensive end. First he strips LeBron and then strips Kyrie. Sheesh pic.twitter.com/rBDIUSC9VZ— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) July 27, 2019
There actually are human beings who don’t think Draymond was very good and/or just not very important to the Warriors. It’s pure insanity pic.twitter.com/nCiYHFpF7D— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) May 3, 2020
I can’t wait to watch a motivated Draymond Green next season ... pic.twitter.com/B0gBhAIea8— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 21, 2020
Draymond Green isn’t good. He isn’t important pic.twitter.com/BlsiGoEjyW— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) May 10, 2020
Durant showed that he has the ability to be a lockdown defender and elite rim protector when fully engaged.
And the basketball world looks forward to seeing those skills back on display whenever the two-time NBA champion returns to the court.
[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]