Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has noticed.
"This is the best I've ever see him play," Kerr told reporters Thursday of Durant. "I'm biased, but I think he's the best player in the league."
Durant has averaged 38.3 points over his last six games since he drew criticism during the Warriors' early struggles against the Los Angeles Clippers in Round 1. He's scored no fewer than 29 points during that span and has led the Warriors in scoring in each contest.
"This is where this s--t is fun; this is when it's serious, and I'm just embracing it," Durant told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. "I'm just having so much fun right now. This time of year is what I'm geared for. I'm just hooping at a high level and enjoying the competitiveness of the playoffs. You go through such a long season to get to this point, and now it's time to produce."
With LeBron James missing the playoffs for the first time since his second NBA season and failing to reach the Finals for the first time since 2010, there is a vacuum in the "best player alive" discussion. LeBron had been so dominant for so long that even in years where he didn't win the MVP, everyone else was vying for second place.
Durant has been the perpetual silver medalist—an athletic 7-footer who might be the most gifted scorer basketball has ever seen. Despite winning two straight Finals MVPs, he has not stopped being the subject of criticism since he arrived in Golden State in 2016. The perpetual storyline with Durant has been that he took a shortcut to championship glory, which is fair in a lot of ways because his signing with a 73-win team was unprecedented.
Durant has also been the easy scapegoat, even in Golden State, with many pointing to the team's struggles if Steph Curry is out of the lineup.
That said, Durant is reminding the world he's one of the 15 greatest players to ever play basketball. It's unclear if he's actually the best he's ever been—it's hard to not be partial to his 2013-14 MVP season—but there aren't many (if any) players anyone would rather have at the moment.