Kevin Durant has been playing fantastic basketball throughout the 2013-14 season, and those who have been paying close attention have noticed that he hasn't just been scoring.
The MVP front-runner has lit up the scoreboard night in and night out, but he's also made massive strides as a facilitator. And he's starting to play elite defense as well.
Just look at the breakdown of PERs allowed to different positions, as shown by 82games.com:
|Position Guarded||PER allowed|
Durant, meanwhile, is considered a key member of this Thunder defense that is nothing short of elite (third in the league after being fourth last season). But does that mean Durant can add a line about defense to his already-sterling résumé now, that he deserves brownie points for his work on that end of the floor? It's looking that way at the moment.
But Durant hasn't just excelled while being hidden on the less-glamorous end of the court, as has been the case in the past. Scott Brooks no longer needs to save his superstar's energy for his point-scoring exploits, and that's allowed K.D. to take on some tougher matchups.
None are tougher than two players, though.
"Kobe (Bryant) and Carmelo (Anthony)," Durant revealed as his most difficult covers during an ESPN Radio appearance (h/t Royce Young of DailyThunder.com for the transcript). "They just have an array of moves that can get me off balance. They’re strong on defense as well, but Kobe is just the ultimate one-on-one player. It would be fun playing against him but it would be tough to beat him."
Solid answers. There's no doubt about that.
Other than Kevin Durant, who's the toughest cover in the NBA?
'Melo and Kobe—when healthy—are two of the toughest one-on-one covers, simply because they're uniquely capable of hitting jumpers so tough few players would even dream of taking them. The fadeaways, shot-creating moves and quickness of their games make holding them in check nearly impossible.
Nothing is wrong with picking that pair of superstars, but it's just a shame no one asked the logical follow-up question.
What about LeBron James?