Before Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant was an NBA MVP and one of the league’s top talents, he was a scrawny 6-foot-9 scorer from Texas who received snickers from strength coaches because he couldn’t bench press 185 pounds.
So it should come as no surprise that Durant, speaking to ESPN while the Warriors prep for the Western Conference finals, dismissed the NBA draft combine and its importance altogether.
His advice for lottery picks in a situation similar to his 10 years ago?
“Stay your (expletive) home, work out and get better on your own time,” Durant said regarding the trend of elite players skipping the draft combine. Top-projected picks Lonzo Ball and Josh Jackson opted not to do drills in Chicago this year. The combine began on Tuesday and wraps up on Sunday.
"I knew nobody in that draft could guard me one-on-one," Durant said. "I knew that for sure. I knew that. And I knew that you don't need to (bench-press) to lift a basketball up. And I knew that this wasn't football, where that stuff matters. I knew as a basketball player, I had a lot of skill, more skill than anybody in the draft. And I knew that if I worked as hard as I could, then that (expletive) wouldn't matter at the end of the day. It still doesn't matter. I was ranked the last person in camp, drills-wise. I was the worst player, and the first player didn't get drafted. That tells you a lot about the significance of that (expletive).
"Now (players aren't attending), but back then, every player was there ... But now, you're getting players to where they realize their power and they're not doing it, and more power to them ... But back then, I wish I would have known the power I had or I probably wouldn't have done it, either.”
Durant was drafted second overall to the Seattle Supersonics in 2007, but he still holds bitterness about the combine based on his experience. The eight-time All-Star also got low marks in the vertical leap, agility drill and three-quarter-court sprint.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," Durant said. "All the strength coaches were laughing at me and (expletive). They were giggling with each other that I couldn't lift 185 pounds, and I was like, 'All right, keep laughing. Keep laughing.' It was a funny thing, because I was the only one that couldn't lift it and I was struggling to lift it. I was embarrassed at that point, but I'm like, 'Give me a basketball, please. Give me a ball.' "
Durant, to this day, said he’s not a fan of bench pressing.
"I haven't tried. I know I can lift 185, though, now, but I don't bench-press," Durant said.