Kyrie Irving Says Kevin Durant Is 1st Teammate He Trusts to Hit Clutch Shots

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 1, 2020

FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2019, file photo, Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving, left, and Kevin Durant watch the game action from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in New York. With so much uncertainty around the NBA season, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks is no longer ruling Kevin Durant out for the season. Marks had repeatedly said he didn't expect Durant to play this season while recovering from Achilles tendon surgery, but he acknowledged Wednesday that everything is unknown now that the season is suspended because of the new coronavirus. Even Kyrie Irving, who had shoulder surgery on March 3, might be available if play stretched into the summer. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Even though Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have yet to play an NBA game together as teammates, Irving has high praise for the two-time NBA Finals MVP.

Appearing on Durant's The ETCs podcast, Irving said Durant is the first teammate he's had that he trusts to be able to make a clutch shot trailing late in the fourth quarter:

Irving did note that he wasn't trying to slight any of his previous teammates, but he "felt guilty" when he wasn't taking the last shot in games because "I felt like I was the best option."

During the 2016 NBA Finals, playing alongside LeBron James, Irving was the one who scored the go-ahead basket for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors. His three-pointer with 53 seconds remaining put the Cavs up 92-89 to help the franchise win its first championship. 

Durant said he would have no problem giving Irving—or another Nets teammatethe runway needed late in games to make a shot if that's what puts them in the best position to win: 

"Most definitely. Like he said, when you look at somebody and you know that they can make shots the same way you can or better. The best part about being in this position of power is like—and being a leader of a team where people look up at you—is like, I enjoy getting out the way and letting and letting others flourish and being a decoy. I really enjoy knowing that me standing in this corner may give [Tyler Johnson] or [Caris LaVert] or [Taurean Prince] or Joe Harris just a little bit more space to do their thing."

There's no argument against Durant as one of the best shooters in NBA history. He has averaged 27 points with a 49.1 field-goal percentage and 38.1 three-point percentage in 849 career games. 

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When Irving is playing at his best, he's capable of scoring with anyone in the league. The 28-year-old shot at least 40 percent from three-point range in three consecutive seasons from 2016-19. His streak came to an end this season when he made 39.4 percent of his attempts behind the arc. 

The Nets should get to see what that duo can do together at the start of next season. Durant sat out the entire 2019-20 campaign while recovering from a ruptured Achilles he suffered playing for the Warriors during the 2019 NBA Finals.