Has Kevin Durant Changed?

How do you like this Kevin Durant?

C.J. Hampshire: Not loving it. There’s a part of him that feels broke to me. Like he doesn’t seem to know that in the league, he is in a category of seven: Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki. Finals MVP’s. He’s already special.

Andrew Chang: There are two Kevin Durant’s is I guess what he wants us to know. The OKC peaceful Durant and this one. Some of his antics don’t make sense to me. Some things you just let go. Durant has been in the league 11 years. He’s acting like a third year player.

Julian Billick: Durant has something to prove this year. He’s going about it the wrong way but I don’t hate on anyone that is showing his passion. That’s how players are supposed to play, like for them everything is on the line. What makes you wonder though is he just a really bad actor because he doesn’t have to go that far. He’s doing way too much.

Mallory Stith-Wheat: No one knows, not even Durant, with this level of emotion, how is it going to be in the playoffs when everything really is revved up. He says he has discipline and he’ll check himself but okay, really? You haven’t done a good job so far.

There’s no Steph so how much pressure is Durant really under?

Andrew: A lot. It’s all about him now. He won that MVP in the Finals with the Cavs paying attention to Steph as the number one option. The fact is the Warriros are the Warriors because of Steph. You can see they don’t even look the same. What he does for them off the dribble, the spacing he forces, all of that disappears and Durant is asked to be superhuman.

Mallory:  It all comes back to OKC right? Durant was tired of the alpha dog to Russ’s situational selfishness. He wanted to be one of the group. He was tired of being the center of everything and now look here, he is the center of everything. He needs Steph, just like he needed Russ. Reality check.

C.J.: He is their best scorer now that Curry is on the bench. Kerr did him zero favors by saying they [Warriors] would win the first round series without Curry. Kerr was basically saying, um….dudes…we got KD. That’s the kind of pressure Durant hates.

Four seasons ago Kevin Durant was the MVP. What do you think he has to accomplish both on an individual level and on a team level for him to win the award again?

C.J:  Playing with Steph’s, it’s going to be hard.  It has to be a situation like now where Steph is hurt. Then he has to have a similar statistical season to when he won the MVP.

Andrew: I don’t see him getting the workload. The Warriors have too many weapons. It has to be a Warriors season where he is just fire with everything, points, rebounds, blocks, steals. He has to be top-5 in a lot of stats.

Brendan Gillespie: Does he even want another MVP?

Julian: I’ve penciled Durant in for MVP in about two years. I think he is going to be real thirsty for it. Right now, it’s about titles. But I think if he wins one or two more and when LeBron is done, Durant is going to want to get that second MVP.

Kevin Durant seems a lot moodier and less friendly than when he came into the league. Is that a good thing?

C.J.:  I think he’s jaded. When you have been in a league a decade, when you have seen everything, had his ups and downs, of course you are not the same wide eyed 20 year old. He has matured.  Sort of.

Julian: I have come to view Durant as someone extremely talented and iconic and extremely sensitive. Things get to him. He doesn’t have the ability to let things roll off. He personalizes a lot.  And so now he is in this space that is sort of a middle thing. Hero and beloved and villain and eye roll.

Andrew: One of the unfair things about this league as a profession is that it plucks kids out of a kids life and tells them to be with men but really they can’t be men until they take all of those lumps and are called a choker and hated for ________. Durant left OKC so he took more than his share of abuse.  The bottom line is he’s a man now. You can’t compare him to when he was a kid.

Mallory: I hope so.  The point is to evolve, in basketball and in life. He’s been through some things and perhaps he is not as trusting, perhaps the criticism stings more than it used to when he was taking it all in with wonder. He’s a veteran. He knows what he wants. He has drawn the line on what is important to him and more importantly who is important. Change is always good.