Frank Vogel makes bold statement on Kevin Durant's defense

The Phoenix Suns might have one of the best scorers in league history in Kevin Durant, but head coach Frank Vogel has plenty to say about his defensive skills too.
Phoenix Suns v Milwaukee Bucks
Phoenix Suns v Milwaukee Bucks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

Although this season hasn't gone exactly the way the Phoenix Suns would have liked to this point, it does not comprehend thinking about how much worse off they would be if they didn't have Kevin Durant. Despite being 35-years-old, he has been healthier than both Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.

He's also scoring at the same ridiculous rate as always, and his 27.8 points per game is higher even than on one of the four occasions he was named the scoring champion in the past. The 41.9 percent he has managed from deep is also one among the best in the NBA, but that is not the only way Durant has impacted the game for the Suns.

In fact when asked about Durant and his defensive abilities recently, head coach Frank Vogel made some bold statements about the player.

The question was put to coach Vogel by our own Will Eudy of Fansided, and his responded in typical Vogel fashion. Measured, although once he began to speak about Durant he went so far as to say he could see some end of season award love for his performances on that end of the court this season, as he said;

"He's one of the best in the league in iso defense and on-ball defense. He's really long, he's physical, he doesn't get enough credit for that side of the ball. He should get All-Defensive team recognition this year, I'd be very disappointed if he doesn't. He guards the other team's best perimeter player each night pretty much. He's guarded fives, he's guarded point guards, he's really done it all. He's done a great job for us."

Frank Vogel on Kevin Durant

This season the Suns have the 13th best defensive rating in the league, at 114.6. Not that we have seen much of this recently, with the Milwaukee Bucks putting 82 points on them in one half in a road loss to them on Sunday. When Durant is on the court though, that number shrinks a small bit to 114.2.

Which tells us that Durant plays a lot and therefore the two numbers are linked, but also that he has played a large part in the Suns being as good as they have been at times defensively so far this season. If anybody is going to get the best out of Durant in that area, it is definitely going to be coach Vogel.

He is also right to point out that Durant has been incredibly versatile - one night he could be guarding Jayson Tatum and the next Domantas Sabonis - and the Suns have been able to build a defensive foundation from that flexibility. There are not too many other players in the league, and elite scorers at that, who can do what Durant can.

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Coach Vogel thinking so highly of Durant's defending also likely gives us a peak into what the postseason rotation could look like. On a few occasions this season starting center Jusuf Nurkic has sat entire fourth-quarters, with Durant playing the five. The results have been mixed but when it's good, it looks sensational.

Clearly Durant is trusted to play as a "center" when the matchup calls for it, although he has also played alongside Nurkic and Bol Bol some recently in a jumbo lineup too. The reason both of these groups work? The defensive flexibility that Durant brings to the table, and that coach Vogel is right to say deserves All-Defensive consideration come the end of the season.