Stats: 18.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.3 apg
We took a bit of a gamble prior to the tournament when we had the nerve to rank Kevin Durant the second-best player at the Olympics, trailing Doncic, a decision we deserve to be panned over after what we just witnessed over the past couple of weeks.
As was the case in this year’s NBA playoffs, Durant oftentimes looked like the best player in the world in Tokyo, scoring absolutely effortlessly while putting in huge effort defensively, guarding opposing wings, banging with All-NBA-level bigs in the paint like Gobert when he had to and protecting the paint as the last line of defense for the Americans.
Who knows where Team USA would have been had Durant not decided to join them for the Olympics, a decision many rightfully deemed risky considering his injury history, but it almost certainly would not have been where they ended up with him, with gold draped around their necks at the end of the tournament.
Durant saved his best performance at the Games for last, scoring 29 points against a tough French squad to go with six rebounds and a blocked shot in 35 minutes of action.
Afterwards, Gobert summed up Durant’s gold-medal-winning showing pretty well (via CBS Sports):
“We tried to make him work as hard as we can, but he’s Kevin Durant,” France center Rudy Gobert said. “He’s going to hit shots that only him, in the world, can hit. … I think he’s the best scorer in basketball. He’s going to do what he does, especially on the biggest stage.”
He’s Kevin Durant. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.
Now, the great Durant goes home with his third Olympic gold medal (and his fourth gold medal overall, as he has one from the 2010 World Cup, too), the tournament’s all-time leading scorer for Team USA, with his legacy in international play completely secured as one of the greatest FIBA competitors of all time.
Maybe the greatest.