Kevin Durant on Kawhi Leonard: “He’s Grown So Much”
By Michael Rehome
Kevin Durant gave praise to San Antonio Spurs Kawhi Leonard following the team’s practice on Thursday. Round 2 of the playoffs begins Saturday.
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It seems as if Durant is changing his tone on the words that he spoke when asked about Leonard over two years ago, when he stated that he was only successful because of the Spurs’ system and the same would go if Paul George would play for San Antonio.
Just two days away from the matchup between the Thunder and Spurs, Durant talked with the media after the Thunder’s practice and had nothing but great words to say on Leonard and his continued growth with San Antonio.
“Coach Pop has given him a lot of opportunity to go play his game,” Durant told reporters following practice Thursday. “He’s grown so much. He’s probably the best in the league at shooting the mid-range off the dribble. Can post up, dribble, shoot the three, catch and shoot. Their team, their system, their continuity and how they move allows him to get free a lot of times and utilize his game. Definitely one of the players that I look at, try to watch.”
His work ethic is showing from over a season ago where he improved on the offensive end, catapulting his scoring average from 16.5 points to 21.2. He has also become a great mid-range and long distance shooter. Last season Leonard made 67 3’s. This past season, he nearly doubled his output from a year ago, finishing with 129 and shooting 44.3 percent, which ranked him third in the league.
“He’s grown so much as a player. I have to be locked in every play”. – Durant On Leonard
Leonard recently won his second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year Award. A player that is liked by many and does not do much talking while on the floor. Leonard truly lets his play do all the talking for him.
Leonard and Durant will be a great matchup during what should be a grueling series. It is hard to find a player that can match the ability of Durant on both ends of the floor. Durant knows it will definitely be a battle and he will have to ‘work’ on both ends of the floor.
“He’s just grown so much as a player. I have to be locked in every play … It’s fun when you get that matchup at the small forward. There are so many great guys, but he’s one of the guys in that top tier.”
Leonard by his performance alone has proven to be one of the best two-way players in the game, and Durant obviously could be another. Say what you will about these two players, but one thing is for sure: we all are in for a treat when these two are opposite one another starting Saturday.