I’m a fan of competition. I’d like to see OKC-Golden State Part II next conference finals. So, for selfish reasons, I hate Kevin Durant joining the Warriors.
When LeBron James left Cleveland to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, I was pissed. I remember going to Miami’s first game in Philadelphia, and booing LeBron the entire game.
Time, like it usually does, helped with LeBron. I cheered hard for Dallas in the first Finals. But I wanted LeBron to win in 2012 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. And even though I wanted San Antonio to win the next two Finals, I learned to appreciate LeBron’s greatness and the greatness of his team.
There’s no way I’m cheering for the Warriors this year.
Golden State embraced the villain role all postseason. That role will only grow stronger. For me the disdain for Golden State probably began after owner Joe Lacob’s comments about the Warriors being “light years” ahead of the rest of the NBA. Lacob doesn’t play for the Warriors. Curry’s greatness shouldn’t be judged because of some billionaire’s comments. But Lacob’s comments, even if taken out of context, were distasteful, and allowed for karma to run its course. Then Green kicked or punched players’ privates in back-to-back rounds.
Now, who just two seasons ago most people considered the second best basketball player on Earth, Durant joins that same team.
Kids will love the Warriors. When Golden State plays in places like Philly and Brooklyn lots of Golden State jerseys will stand out. It’ll be even crazier than last year’s record-breaking team.
Durant can do as he pleases. He doesn’t owe Oklahoma City anything. He had the chance to join a better team, and he did. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with what Durant did.
Durant chose a better situation. Curry only had a higher usage rate than Russell Westbrook once in his career. And that was last year’s unanimous MVP. Curry’s ability to play without the ball in Golden State’s free-flowing offense was reported, by Howard Beck, as a major reason why he left Oklahoma City. Westbrook and Durant both needed the ball. Westbrook, who in 2014 carried the offensive load with Durant injured, will love being the man in Oklahoma City. But Durant, it appeared, wasn’t always happy with sharing the offense with a ball-dominant player. That doesn’t mean all of those Durant-Westbrook naysayers were right. It just means Durant greatly wanted a less-ISO heavy offense.
The Warriors have glue-guys already in place. The Warriors are essentially replacing Harrison Barnes with Durant. The Warriors might not win 73-plus games next season, but Golden State won’t begin the season 9-8 like Miami did in 2010.
Klay Thompson rarely dribbled before Durant arrived. He won’t have any issue be exclusively a spot-up shooter. Zach Lowe mentioned in this brilliant piece examining Golden State’s new offense how instead of Curry-Draymond Green pick-and-roll Golden State will heavily feature a Curry-Durant pick-and-roll. That’s going to be deadly.
It’s obvious that a former MVP in his prime joining a 73-win team will make them better.
But it all comes back to competitive balance. Assuming Durant-Curry-Thompson-Green remain relatively healthy come June, Golden State’s winning the NBA Title. There’s not much San Antonio or Cleveland can do about that. But they’ll try, which makes the NBA postseason a must-watch.
Last season the Warriors roasted the Spurs in their first match-up. But the Spurs responded, handing Golden State one of their nine losses. The Spurs did so by playing smothering defense, switching screens to impact Curry. It served as the blue print to contain the Warriors, allowing Oklahoma City to have such success in the Conference Finals and ultimately allowing the Cavaliers to claw back from 3-1 to win the NBA Finals. Ty Lue, Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers and Billy Donovan have their work cut out for them. If a team other than Golden State wins the 2017 NBA Finals it’ll be shocking.
Losing each spring probably put a toll on Durant. The frustration mounted after each disappointment. The Durant-Westbrook-Serge Ibaka trio lost one series while fully healthy since the Thunder traded James Harden. But with Durant leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder now might be the NBA’s biggest what could’ve been.
And that’s another reason why Durant joining the Warriors hurts.
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