The whole basketball world was devastated –particularly the whole Oklahoma community –when Kevin Durant, NBA’s MVP for the 2013-2014 season, signed with the 2016 league runner-up Golden State Warriors. 2 months hadn’t passed since the previous season’s conclusion when the then free agent Durant decided to join an already formidable powerhouse Warriors team that already has Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and two-time MVP Stephen Curry.
The somewhat expected transfer (owing to the fact that Durant only had 1 trip to the NBA finals with his old team) garnered tons of speculations –and ridicules –as expected. Charles Barkley even called Durant out by saying that he’s joining the “Warrior’s gravy train.”
Kevin is continuously labelled as a “coward” by people who don’t buy his cause. Online chants like “If you can’t beat them, join them,” and “blowing 3-1 leads together” are some lines that could make Kevin want to shut off his social media account for a while.
Coming from the Durantula’s mouth, leaving the Thunder “offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth” as per The Player’s Tribune website. With an expected salary of $54.3 million for 2 years that includes a player option after the first year, Durant has all the motivation he needs to silence his haters and finally capture his first NBA ring.
A Shoo-In Addition
Which NBA team wouldn’t want two MVP awardees of the last three seasons housed in the same training facility?
Durant finished third in scoring last year with 28.2 points per outing. Guess who topped that list? His new teammate who’s fond of displaying his mouthpiece while gleefully dancing after hitting a deadshot three – Steph Curry.
Prior to the Durant move, the Warriors is already a lethal offensive team. Durant’s arrival would further skyrocket that offense with his unparalleled offensive skillset. He shoots the three with finesse, blows by defenders for the empathic dunk, and pretty confident with his midrange game –all of that packaged in a 6’11 athletic body.
Big 3? No, Big 4. Just think of 4 All-Stars in one team –Curry, Thompson, Green, Durant –in your starting line up? Every fantasy player will drool over that thought. Durant’s addition makes the Warrior’s small ball system thrive more. The multi-titled scoring champion somewhat eases off the pressure on both Steph and Klay in terms of splashing.
The Move Firing Back?
When the handshake and all the warm greetings were made in Golden’s State meeting with Durant, it meant one thing: the departure of some players. Forgive me, they’re not just some players, but ‘instrumental players’ that sparked Golden State’s championship in 2015.
Bogut, Speights, Rush, Barnes, Barbosa, and Ezeli were all shipped to rival West contenders. Only Livingston and Iguodala were the only notable players who remained in Golden State’s bench. Remember how all these guys connived to help the Warriors grab a 1-0 lead in this year’s Finals? Clearly, bench spark and depth is what the ‘super team’ Warriors will miss this season.
Can Durant make up for an entire bench? With that calibre of talent, there’s no question he can put up 20+ points easily at any given night (he has a streak of 70+ games with at least 20 points). But other intangibles like hustle, extra energy, and defensive toughness are what he cannot provide on a consistent basis.
If you’ll take a look at Golden State’s 2 early losses from the Spurs and the Lakers, those were obviously blowout and frustrating losses. When Golden State starters struggle like that, it’s an impending doom for them. I’ve nothing against new recruits like Zaza Pachulia, Javale McGee, and David West, but those guys aren’t as quick and sharp as those who departed because of Durant’s signing.
The Test of Time
Only time can really tell if the pickup is worth the gamble of ruining a proven formula.
Durant’s signing will live up to the billing if…
Golden State can share the rock better. There were occasions where Klay never got his usual offensive touches because of Durant’s presence. In other words, personal egos should be set aside. Nevertheless, there are at least 4 superstars here who couldn’t help but want to be the hero at times. Remember that there’s no “I” in the word “team.”
Durant’s signing will turn out to be disastrous if…
The Warriors’ bench will not step up. If they can’t get any substantial contribution from guys off the bench, Durant and the rest of the big 4 will run out of steam. Forcing starters to take much of the load in every of the 82 regular season games does no good. Remember how the Warrior’s exhausted much of their core to break the 72-10 record by the 95-96 Bulls? Their campaign didn’t end well right?
As a wrap-up, Durant’s arrival to Golden State can either be a gift or a curse. We can only speculate for now. If it is a sure catch you want, you can always count on Wagadoo in manufacturing above par sports apparels.