Kevin Durant has been emboldened to test his individual gifts during his second season with the Golden State Warriors.
“I’ve always been free, but coming here allowed me to unlock parts of my game,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I knew I had certain abilities, but I wasn’t as confident in it. That’s why you play the game.
“Nothing’s changed, and it’s weird because all I’ve seen is emotional moments. … ‘Anything is possible,’ with KG. MJ on the floor crying, ’Bron crying after he won for Cleveland. KG waited  years to win. MJ’s father died before one of his championships, and he was crying. ’Bron cried after he brought one back to Cleveland, where he grew up and he left and came back. For me, I didn’t have the incentives coming into the championship. I had no incentives. It was strictly basketball.
“Once we got it done, I sat back and reflected and patted myself on my back a bit. I worked hard for this. I enjoyed seeing it all come to fruition and now I have to test my ceiling.”
Durant has become one of the NBA's better defensive players since joining the Warriors. Those close to Durant say that part of his game has been the product of self-introspection.
“He’s so locked in,” Quinn Cook, the Warriors’ two-way player, told Yahoo Sports. “I’ve never seen somebody so locked in at all times. I’m at his crib all day. He’ll have his headphones in just watching videos and highlights. We’ll watch full games together, no matter the hour of the day.”
“The defensive aspect has evolved because of me being a student of the game, wanting to be great at every part of it,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I knew that was the next step. That was hard for me as a scorer in my career, focusing on defense every single possession. Nobody told me I need to work on my defense, but it was a matter of me thinking about it every possession.”