It’s no surprise that Kevin Durant has been excellent on defense for the Golden State Warriors this year. Despite starting at small forward, Durant is second in the league in blocks per game, averaging more than 2.3 per contest.
But it’s not just box score defense: Durant has been locked in everywhere, looking elite on the perimeter, on the block, and off-ball. Quite simply, he’s been one of the best defensive players in the league, and a huge part of why the Warriors have the top defensive rating in the NBA.
And he just got an endorsement for Defensive Player of the Year by someone huge: Draymond Green, the reigning winner of the award, and KD’s teammate.
‘If I had a vote, I’d vote for him.’ - Draymond Green on Kevin Durant’s Def Player of the Year candidacy.— Monte Poole (@MontePooleNBCS) December 28, 2017
Draymond Green, last year's DPOY, says Kevin Durant is his Defensive Player of the Year to this point: "I'm not sure it's a race" pic.twitter.com/begOsBQ0IM— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 28, 2017
Green stated that, “I don’t think it’s really a race right now, the way he’s been playing on the defensive side of the ball.” Of course, Green knows a thing or two about defense, having not only won the award last season, but finished second in voting in the two prior seasons.
Certainly the door is open for Durant. The consensus elite group of defenders coming into this season was limited to three players: Green, Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. Both Leonard and Gobert have missed enough time with injuries that they’re all but eliminated.
Which means that Green may be Durant’s biggest competition. But Green has also missed six games, so he’s a few more absences away from removing himself from the race as well.
Of course, Durant winning is no sure thing. There are a number of players who need to be considered this year, namely Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, and Joel Embiid of the Philadephia 76ers. Players like Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors will also get some looks.
Still, an endorsement from Green is huge. Not only does it show that the best defensive player in the league thinks Durant is elite, but it demonstrates the selflessness of this Warriors team.
A Defensive Player of the Year candidate openly campaigning for his teammate to win the award? That’s pretty special.