The 2013-14 NBA MVP Kevin Durant was the best player in the league last season. His play undoubtedly evolved from previous season, but there was something missing — a killer instinct. Former NBA greats like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Allen Iverson all had that killer instinct that propelled them above the rest. Skill can carry you a long way, but if you lack the mentally to be aggressive, then you’re selling yourself short.
Being aggressive doesn’t come over night; it is something you have to slowly work on. The evolution of a player usually comes down to skill or mental growth. Durant has yet to grow mentally, and it has held him back. His skill got him his first MVP award, but his mental weakness prevented him from winning his first NBA Championship. In the playoffs, Durant faded away statistically. He just was not the same player we had seen in the regular season. You could see him becoming less aggressive as the playoffs went on. Each series, Durant had trouble scoring and staying focused. We saw his numbers drop almost all across the board, which is surprising for something who averaged 32-points per game in the regular season.
Although Durant’s lack of aggressiveness kept the Thunder from achieving the ultimate goal — winning an NBA Championship — we saw Russell Westbrook evolve mentally. Westbrook was the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s MVP during the playoffs. Durant can learn a lot from Westbrook, but he may believe he’s too good to do so. I believe Durant will one day take turn and become a more aggressive player. Until then, the Thunder will have trouble depending on him to pull them through rough patches.
Durant is now for sure the second best player on the planet, and is slowly creeping up on LeBron James. James has more of a killer instinct, although he also has trouble with failing to be more aggressive in key moments. James is a more reliable player all around and that’s what separates the two. Still, I believe Durant has more room to grow and will eventually be the better player when it is all said and done.