Kevin Durant names his choice for best player and team in the NBA right now

Kevin Durant has had plenty to say during media availability during All-Star Weekend, and we now know who he thinks is the best player and team in the league right now.
Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns - Game Two
Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns - Game Two / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

If there's one thing Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns knows, it is ball. The 35-year-old is clearly a hoops junkie for life, with his teammate in The Valley Devin Booker saying as much during media availability at All-Star Weekend.

So when Durant offers up an opinion on the game, you know it is one that he has given some consideration to. After all, this is the guy who felt compelled to tweet out his admiration for center Nikola Vucevic's game, back when the Montenegrin was putting up big numbers for the Orlando Magic, and when nobody outside of Florida cared who he was.

So when Durant was asked about who he thinks the best player and team in the league are right now outside of the Suns, everybody was eager to hear what he had to say.

In a selection that may worry Suns fans - Durant named a player who plays for the team that he would also select - and who currently represent one of the biggest obstacles for his team if they want to get out of the Western Conference this season.

Few could argue with Durant's selection here, with the L.A. Clippers sitting at 36-17 and Kawhi Leonard playing some of the best basketball of his career. The decision to go and get James Harden paid off, Paul George is playing at an All-Star level himself and even Russell Westbrook is a factor off the bench these days. On top of all of that, the Clippers boast a deep roster.

Although Leonard did not play on Valentine's Day against the Golden State Warriors before the midseason break, he has played and started an impressive 48 games this season. An All-Star for the first time since 2020-21 and on pace to fly past the most games he has played in a regular season since 2018-19 (60 games), Durant clearly recognizes that Leonard right now is a problem.

He sits ninth in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating (23.7), and the ridiculous 45.3 percent he has shot from deep is a career high, while the 5.1 attempts he has managed from long-range is one of the highest marks of his career. His defensive capabilities will never be in question, but offensive output like that has to worry the Suns and everybody else in the West.

But perhaps making it work with Harden and Westbrook - and in doing so start to realize the potential that joining forces with George had in the first place - is the most impressive thing Leonard is doing right now. He rarely speaks, which hasn't always favored the teams he has played for. But when he's healthy and the team is rolling, not since Tim Duncan have we seen a superstar operate in this way.

Could the Suns beat the Clippers in a seven-game series? Right now you would have to say no, although they did get the better of them last season, when Booker went nuclear and torched a hobbled Clippers group. The Suns do also now have Bradley Beal to throw at the Clippers and everybody else, and that too has to be accounted for. He is helping this group to win games.

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But perhaps Durant's comments have also had the unfortunate impact of giving the defending champion Denver Nuggets more motivation to reclaim their throne. The Nuggets bumped the Suns from the playoffs last season, and in Nikola Jokic they have a player who could well win a third MVP award in four season this year.

So Durant is right to single out the Clippers right now, and Leonard is as good as ever. It speaks volumes that he would take him over Jokic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Giannis Antetokounmpo. But that doesn't mean Suns fans shouldn't worry about what this season can bring, if their own superstar is already paying attention to what is going down in Los Angeles.