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Explain One Play: Is KD the DPOY? An Xmas Story.

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Is KD the Defensive Player of the Year so far? Here’s a Christmas sampler of Durant’s defense from the Cavaliers-Warriors game on Dec 25 2017. You’ll see the highs of elite defense against post-ups and isolation, thrilling weak-side help defense, and the lows of sloppy switches and softness in defensive rebounding. Sometimes all in one play.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks
KD 4 DPOY, OK? CUL8R
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

So, the buzz is growing around Kevin Durant’s candidacy for Defensive Player of the Year. I wrote an in-depth analysis of Durant’s case, using narrative, advanced statistics and video study at BBallBreakdown. Here are some highlights from the piece plus a movie of Durant’s defense on Christmas.

This year’s DPOY candidate list is thin. Pre-season favorites Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gobert have missed a lot of time due to injury, and Draymond Green has missed a little time and also been hampered by a shoulder issue....

So almost by default, Kevin Durant has risen to the top of the DPOY discussions. Draymond Green himself threw his support behind Durant for DPOY.

Durant has been arguably the most thrilling defender in the NBA this season as the league’s most prolific shot blocker (first in total blocks and fourth by blocks per game).

[much data analysis omitted]

So, while these stats are not in any way definitive, they do make us look closer at Kevin Durant’s defensive game. The numbers, from four different perspectives, paint a picture of an outstanding on-ball defender whose off-ball work and awareness significantly lessen his impact.

Here is a Christmas sampler of Durant’s defense from the Cavaliers-Warriors game. You’ll see the highs of elite defense against post-ups and isolation, thrilling weak-side help defense, and the lows of sloppy switches and softness in defensive rebounding. Sometimes all in one play.

And here is the video!

KD's Xmas Defense

Is KD the Defensive Player of the Year so far? Here's a Christmas sampler of Durant’s defense from the Cavaliers-Warriors game. You’ll see the highs of elite defense against post-ups and isolation, thrilling weak-side help defense, and the lows of sloppy switches and softness in defensive rebounding. Sometimes all in one play.

Posted by Golden State of Mind on Thursday, January 4, 2018

(alternate YouTube link)

There is some harmony between the story from the numbers and from the video. This is also early in his second year in the unusually switch-heavy Warriors’ defense, so expect continuing improvement in his team defensive contribution as he matures in it. Durant said he’s only started to see himself as an elite defensive player since coming to the Warriors, and this mentality will likely continue pushing his growth.

Kevin Durant has elite aspects to his defensive game with some issues lessening his team impact. He is an intimidating rim protector who can instantly counterattack on a block or steal. He can bang with large players in the post, and his agility and length let him stay with smaller drivers. This is a key part to the Warriors’ switching defensive scheme, and he’s the leading blocker in a great defense. So KD would be a reasonable DPOY.

However, there are other players worthy of more consideration than they’re getting, and who deserve a longer article....

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Is Kevin Durant the Defensive Player of the Year so far?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Definitely yes
    (133 votes)
  • 35%
    Probably yes
    (109 votes)
  • 11%
    Probably no
    (34 votes)
  • 2%
    Definitely no (the real DPOY in the comments)
    (9 votes)
  • 6%
    Answer unclear, ask again later
    (21 votes)
306 votes total Vote Now