COLIN COWHERD: Whitlock, are you losing a level of respect for KD?
JASON WHITLOCK: No, because my level of respect for KD has never been as high as everyone else’s. I go back to, and I’m not trying to be unfair and I’m not trying to be divisive or polarizing, but again, I’m really not. But I just want to say that. I want to say this. I never liked his mama sitting courtside in OKC.
JIM JACKSON: Why not?
JASON WHITLOCK: And I was ver– because again, at some point you become a man and mama moves to the suites or she watches at home. And so again, he’s a bit of a mama’s boy. And he’s, and again, I’ve always called him hug life.[LAUGHTER]
So again, all of this sounds like a total disrespect for Kevin Durant, but it’s not. It’s just to me, I feel like I’ve always had him in perspective. He’s not an alpha. And again, when you go look at their record, without Steph Curry.
COLIN COWHERD: 6-9.
JASON WHITLOCK: In Golden State. No, I think he’s like 12-8 overall.
COLIN COWHERD: Yeah.
JASON WHITLOCK: And then when Steph plays without KD, they’re 20-0. So again, one of these guys is an alpha male, leader, championship. One guy to me isn’t.
COLIN COWHERD: You know, when you first said that a couple of years ago when we started this show, I still laughed Hug Life. But I was like, I don’t know. But I will say this. This is one of these where I’ve evolved listening to you. There was the preseason tats. Remember that? We were like–
JASON WHITLOCK: Rick James and–
COLIN COWHERD: Huge. Then there was the burner account. Then there’s this Rasheed Wallace level of ejections. Then there’s rabbit ears. I mean, he responds to everything. And it’s the drip, drip, drip effect. He’s a great talent. But not every great talent has Magic Johnson’s ability to tune stuff out, lead, be in the biggest city, come right into the league.
He struggled at times at OKC. Now he goes to Golden State. When Steph’s there, he’s the first guy that gets asked questions. I think with me, I look at Kevin and I think great all time talent. But to your point, there is a little alpha DNA missing.
DAHNTAY JONES: I agree in that case he’s not an alpha. I don’t think Steph’s an alpha either. However, Steph, Steph’s game is better suited for that style of play and for their game as the Golden State Warriors. But KD is put in a position where he helps them. He’s not fitted for that. And when Steph is out, the spacing is not there. He has to deal with a different look. He can just play one on one. It’s a different capacity. He’s not making people better.
JIM JACKSON: Yes.
DAHNTAY JONES: When Steph is there, now it’s this open court. He tends to look a little better and it’s a little bit easier for him. So it’s kind of, you can’t compare the impact on both of them. But he already said he doesn’t want to be a leader. He’s not a leader. And he’s used to be, he’s used to hunting, not being the hunted.
COLIN COWHERD: Yeah.
DAHNTAY JONES: And that’s a different perspective and that’s a different personality you have to have. Different characteristics you have to have as a basketball player. First time him being the hunted, he’s kind of unraveling a little bit.
JIM JACKSON: Dahntay, by playing, you play against guys, and you kind of get a sense and feel of their personality, who they are right away. Whether he can take the pressure, whether you can get up into him, whether he’ll fold, whether he is an alpha male. Whether his game is fitted for or suited for a championship type of run, can be a leader. Kevin Durant has always been the type that is a great scorer.
From a leader perspective, more quiet, laid back. I think he’s fighting a perception because we put so much on the LeBron on how he leads, on how he encompasses the team and he brings people into the fold. So we, our expectations for Kevin Durant since you’re the second best player in the world, you should be able to do the same. It’s not.
Steph Curry is so different because he’s a point guard. His ability to control tempo, look, when he plays, they’re first in pace. When he doesn’t play, they’re 14th. What does that tell you? The game changes because the ball is in his hand. So he’s able to manipulate defenses a lot differently than a Kevin Durant, than even a LeBron James.
LeBron is the prototypical point forward per se that you want to build off of. Everybody can’t do that. Everybody can’t be an alpha. I don’t care who it is, who came through. Dominique, as great as he was, he’s an alpha male, but at the same time, he didn’t bring his team. He can only do one thing, and he did that exquisitely.
Kevin Durant it’s kind of the same thing. He picked up his defense, picked up his rebound, but we’ve got to keep him in his spot where he’s at. He’s not a LeBron, he’s not a Steph in regards to controlling the team. But he is who he is, and he’s a valuable asset that Golden State team.
DAHNTAY JONES: Yeah.
JASON WHITLOCK: Is any of that a reduction in respect for Kevin Durant in the opinion you had of him two years ago as to now?
JIM JACKSON: No, because he’s still doing what he’s doing. He’s still scoring points. My expectation with him was, are you going to be held accountable and step up when it counts? That’s my thing. I think when he was in OKC, the accountability of lack thereof of, hurt that OKC team. And I think he’s, with a Draymond Green and with a Steve Kerr, a lot of that stuff is taken care of. My thought process is still the same on Kevin Durant.
DAHNTAY JONES: Two years ago he was a match-up nightmare. That’s what he is then and that’s what he is now. He’s never been a leader, he’s never been, he’s never made people better. His presence makes you better, because he’s a weapon out there and you have to pay attention to him.
But he doesn’t make plays for others. That’s never what he, that’s never what he’s had to do, never what he’s done. He’s gotten assists, but you’re played with two of the best shooters in the NBA. You have no choice but to get assists. Like that’s just a given. When you pass them the ball, they shoot at a high clip and they make shots.
So he’s not making plays. He’s not creating shots for other people. He’s just the match-up nightmare at seven feet tall. I can shoot better than you. I can get to a spot. I can get to the bas–, I can do everything, I’m just a one-on-one match-up nightmare on the score. I’m not a leader, but I’m a disaster to have to guard. That’s it.