Jrue Holiday had the perfect season – he’s sitting home with an NBA and Olympic title. As one of the few players who did both in the same year, fans are intrigued by how it has been for the combo guard. With the experience of playing with and against Kevin Durant, Holiday shared what makes 2021 KD so impressive.
Kevin Durant the ruthless rival
The Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets competed in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and the main question was who will guard KD – Jrue or Giannis? Holiday knew that as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, he would have to defend KD at times. Given the fact he guarded him multiple times while Durant was with the Warriors, Jrue thought he knew what he was up against. Turned out Brooklyn KD is a totally different beast.
“I think now that I’ve played against KD in this series and again I played against him in Golden State completely different. Like he literally carried this team and it was insane to be part of.”Jrue Holiday, The Old Man & The Three
KD with the Warriors is much different from KD with the Nets. In Golden State, Durant had plenty of help and even though he was the best player on Golden State, he didn’t have all the burden on him. With the Nets, Durant has a lot more defensive responsibility and knows he is the ultimate failsafe – that’s exactly what happened in the playoffs. With Harden and Kyrie out, the Nets were the underdogs. Durant had to wear that Superman cape and be someone who almost single-handedly defeated Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Nets were a few inches away from snatching that Game 7 victory and probably the NBA title, all because of KD’s brilliance. The guy made one of the craziest shots in Playoffs history and was frustrated cause he knew his foot was on the line. That tells you the level of expectations Durant sets for himself.
KD is “mentally penetrating”
Trying to describe what it was like to face KD, Jrue took some artistic liberty and came up with a new phrase. Everyone was exhausted in that series, including KD, yet he never took his foot off the gas.
“Mentally it was draining. Again, mentally its draining because I feel like you do everything you can to stop somebody and its not working. Kevin Durant is pretty much like, this is gonna sound weird, mentally penetrating you.”Jrue Holiday, The Old Man & The Three
The former OKC Thunder star player is a living cheat code. A 7-footer with a wide wingspan who can dribble and shoot like a shooting guard makes KD a unique player and a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. That quality, of making the best defenders feeling helpless is as important as the ability to drain a clutch shot. Bill Russell said a similar thing about his game on the defensive end – “The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make you opponent believe you might block every shot.” KD’s the same, just on offense. What makes him so “mentally penetrating” is that every time you see him coming your way with the ball, you know he’s getting a good shot, one you expect to go in no matter what you do.
Is KD the best player in the league right now? Holiday refused to answer out of respect to other players, but we all know who his choice could be.