Durant often gets compared to Dirk Nowitzki. With good reason, too. Both are abnormally tall jump shooters who can score in a variety of ways and don’t need superior athleticism to do it. Durant admits he’s studied the Dallas star since he was in middle school, and once said he was just 13 years old when he started working to master Nowitzki’s famous one-legged fadeaway. Kobe Bryant might be the only other player in the NBA that goes to the well consistently, but even he can’t do it like Dirk or Durant.
“I just tried it one day when I was working out in the summer,” Durant once told ESPN Dallas. “It was rougher than I thought it was going to be, so it took me some time to figure it out, but I think I’m doing all right with it.”
It’s an impossible shot to block, and it helps add an element to Durant’s game that’s difficult to replicate. It’s also a shot that knows no age barriers. As long as Durant is in the league, he’ll be making this shot look easy, lofting fadeaways over the top of defenders.
4 of 5
I’ve written about this move before. Most wouldn’t expect to see this on a list of KD’s patented moves, but he uses the double-crossover enough that it has to be there. He’s also one of the few players in the entire league that can pull it off effectively.
You can’t expect most 6-10 players to handle the ball like this, yet Durant routinely catches defenders with his patented double-crossover. Part of that is his ability to stay low, some is the threat of his deadly pull-up, but mostly it’s because of his freakish wingspan. A 7-4 wingspan lets KD show you the ball and then really go. Durant uses this setup move as often as anyone.
My words. What’s Darrell Arthur supposed to do with this? He’s caught in-between trying to defend the drive, which you must because of Durant’s long strides, and the jumper, which you must because of the high release point.
5 of 5
From the MVP speech to his demeanor with everyone from the media to the fans to the way he treats his teammates, there are a lot of ways in which Kevin Durant is unique. But on the court, he’s even more rare.
“I think he is the single most difficult guy to defend, and even when you defend him well, in most cases, he just missed the shot,” Doc Rivers told ESPN Los Angeles last year, adding that he’s felt that way for three or fours years. “He’s unique. I guess if you gave George Gervin five more inches, he’d be similar. But I don’t think we’ve ever seen a Durant. He’s Kevin Durant.”
Having just celebrated his 26th birthday, Durant has improved his game every year in the NBA. It still won’t make you the popular kid in school, considering Durant hasn’t won a title, but you can argue he’s already the best player in the NBA. The amazing part is he’s still just hitting his prime, stepping his overall game up to the point where last season he was more efficient than LeBron James — he had a lower turnover rate (10.3 to 11.4) despite a higher usage rate (31.2 to 29.1) — nearly matched his passing and rebounding numbers (though he averaged more boards per game, LeBron had a higher rebounding rate), and outscored everyone in the NBA by almost five points. It’s been nearly 30 years since a player won the scoring title by that wide of a margin. (Michael Jordan last did it in 1987 by averaging 37.1 a night.)
Despite the foot injury that could keep him out for up to two months, Durant is special no matter how you slice it up. With yet another dope colorway of the Nike KD7 dropping this Thursday at Champs Sports, we’re celebrating the dawning of a new age in the NBA with a player that’s never been seen before. Durant has rare game. Here are 5 Things That Make Kevin Durant the NBA’s Most Unique Player.
Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney