Kevin Durant in Golden State Warriors: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Hello, y’all!

On Thursday night, I prepped myself to watch the 3-hour long Ultra Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and I thought it was a good time to finally take a second look and see if this extended version could make the movie a little better than what we saw in the theaters.  I didn’t hope that it would save it from the disaster that I thought it was, but I thought it could get better.  So I put in on Friday morning, and have my pen and notebook ready for any notes I can gather just in time for my Saturday morning article.  One hour into the movie, I felt bored, and so I started browsing through my Facebook while Lois Lane wondered why the US military was supplying experimental ammunition to African rebels.  As soon as I wondered how this part isn’t even needed in the movie (exactly how I feel about Lois too), I chanced upon that Golden State Warriors post about Durant’s welcome press conference.  I shut the whole BvS thing down and instead watched the 30-minute long question and answer with the controversial, ex-OKC basketball star, Kevin Durant.  Suddenly, I felt engaged and interested again.

Kevin Durant’s decision was the most anticipated by fans and sports-enthusiast alike following the conclusion of the 2016 NBA Finals.  He was the most sough-after among this year’s NBA free-agent players, and it was all shrouded in mystery and excitement leading up to the July 4 announcement he made over at The Players’ Tribune.  Initially, I thought that the current Golden State Warriors roster, despite losing to the Cavaliers this season, was to a fault one of the NBA’s dream rosters with the Death Lineup at the helm, and the ultra-reliable deep bench, that it isn’t worth adding another superstar especially that it will definitely mean having to let go of some of these players.  But what do I know about basketball?  You guessed it.  Having jumped on the NBA bandwagon just a year ago, I deferred my judgment and let the brains of the organization (Warriors) pursue what they wanted to pursue.  So when Joe Lacob said he will be aggressive in courting KD to join the Warriors, I sure hoped Kevin would give him his sweet “yes”.  And boy, did he!

Having read that, even if you’re not following my Facebook feed, you can now tell I’m a Dubs fan.  Obviously, I am thrilled that KD has chosen Golden State Warriors to continue with his illustrious career, but even he knows that this will be a challenging decision he has to live with.  More than his personal growth as an athlete, the repercussions are even greater and the criticisms are inevitable.  This decision, this move, can very well mean a re-shaping of NBA basketball culture for years to come.


The Good – for Durant

No one else could have thought this through better than the man himself, Kevin Durant.  To be in that position, thinking about how you would want to further grow as an individual in your chosen field might as well be the same as deciding on marrying a person, only made worse by the fact that he would have to leave a previous one behind.  However, if you look at the Warriors as a team, you know for a fact that this is a team that anybody would want to be in.  There’s the talent, the teamwork, and the passion not only in winning championships but being an indelible mark in the field of sports.  Not that this isn’t the case for any other teams, but the Warrior’s recent work sans the 2016 championship proves that the Warriors is just on the verge of growing and improving.  Apart from this, he mentioned it himself: the team felt organic and natural, and it something that he wants to be a part of.  We are yet to see how the chemistry plays when they are finally on the court, but for a player to feel like he belongs to a team certainly is a very important factor.  He shares the vision of the team to pursue a championship, and having been in a championship drought since 2012, it is just practical to join an emerging team who can very well provide for him a ring.

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“Down, boy, with the enthusiasm…”


The Good – for the Warriors

For such a historic season with so many records broken including the near-impossible 73-9 feat, the Warriors missing out on the end-goal of winning a championship could just very well zero out those accomplishments.  They said it so themselves: it ain’t a thing without a ring.  Having Kevin Durant join the team only fortify their roster.  In terms of the Warrior’s offense, now that it seems some teams have figured out how to limit their perimeter shooting, having Durant in the lineup would help ease some pressure off against the Splash Brothers, and at the same time, also allow for Durant to have some uncontested shots.  And since Durant is also great with treys, this could mean that the defense will be forced out from the paint and could allow for other players to have their chance, not only for scoring points in the paint, but also in racking some offensive boards, which the Warriors seems to be challenged with.  All the same, the Death Lineup just became deadlier.  Just when other teams start figuring out Curry and Thompson, in comes Durant.  Only time can tell how this can play out in the court.  Can’t wait for October.  Seriously.

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The Death Lineup


The Bad – for Durant

KD has been known to play serious minutes while in OKC, in that being him and Russell Westbrook as the go-to guys for winning games.  Now that he will be playing for the Warriors, his minutes per game could be lower considering the roster that the team currently has.  It is yet to be known whether Steve Kerr, the team’s coach, would start Durant; however it is unlikely that he wouldn’t.  Also, being in a team that has 3 or 4 superstars, it is easy to be overshadowed, although I don’t think it will be much of his concern.  It is highly unlikely to happen though as KD’s been in the league for 9 seasons already.  Still, for an individual player to shine through a very shiny roster, it could be a challenge, but if that has to be the risk to win championships, then it is a calculated risk.

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“Whhyyyyyyyyy????”


The Bad – for the Warriors

Now that the team’s roster is furthermore toughened by Durant’s addition, the Warriors HAVE to win a championship.  I still believe that if Draymond Green hadn’t been suspended, they would’ve won over the Cavaliers, and if Steph and/or Klay had played as good as they were for the most part of the season, then they would have still won.  The Cavaliers have won by 4 points, and the Warriors have gotten out of that deficit or worse scenarios in much better fashion.  They still have a solid lineup.  Having Durant in the team only increases the pressure for them to be even better throughout the season, and eventually win a championship next year.  I guess this addition is only bad if they lose another championship.  It is also worth considering that Durant’s contract is only for two years, with the 2nd year as a player option.  2017 MUST be a championship year for the Warriors, not only for championship’s sake, but also if they want to keep Durant for longer.  That’s how I see it though.  Again, only a bad thing if they don’t win a ring.

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The Ugly – for Durant

Well, given that KD has thought this through more than anyone in this world, I’m sure he knows what the “outside noise” is going to be.  It has already been quite a while since James LeBron had left Miami Heat, but the noise hasn’t died down as of yet, so KD could only imagine what he would be dealing with for a long time.  He needs to be able to develop a thick skin in order to be oblivious to all the backlash and criticisms he already is facing.  Apart from that, it just adds fuel to the fire that he decided to leave OKC for GSW, a team that beat the Thunder from a 3-1 deficit, therefore embodying an “if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em” philosophy, of course from an OKC fan’s perspective.  He’d also have to deal with criticisms that he’s just taking a shortcut to a championship by joining the Warriors.  If I was Durant, the greatest horror I could think of is finding myself playing for Golden State Warrior.  In Chesapeake Energy Arena.   Against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  An even greater horror is knowing that it is bound to happen no matter what I do.

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“Dude, they hate you…” “No, they mean you…”


The Ugly – for the Warriors

Oh boy.  I can’t think of any metaphors that could ultimately describe the phrase “You have to give up so much to achieve greatness.”  As I feared, much of what made the Warriors will have to go in pursuit of Durant.  One of the team’s strength is how deep the bench is.  Harking back to when Curry was injured, the bench mostly carried the team forward and won throughout the playoffs.  And even when Curry was on the floor but was having an off night, the bench carried the team forward and won several games that ultimately brought the team to the Finals.  Now that Durant is aboard the ship, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush, and possibly others would have to be let go.  Although Barnes performance during the playoffs was less than stellar, he has been instrumental in many victories throughout the season.  Bogut’s blocks and followups will surely be missed.  Barbosa’s reliability in scoring hoops and some treys especially in tight spots will now be useful in another team.  But you know, I’m sure the management knows exactly what they’re doing.  To me it’s just a little hard to digest losing 5 for 1, especially when those 5 actually work.

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Ref: “Okay let’s pose while you’ve got your Warriors jerseys on… one last time.”


 

One of my fellow Dubs fan was not at all over the moon upon hearing Durant’s decision to join the Warriors, and I do get it.  Although I seek an easy win for the team, much of the game’s fun and excitement is built on the competition between teams.  Now we don’t know how having Durant will play out for the Warriors, but it cannot be denied– the team is now extremely formidable, and there is but just a little uncertainty that it would be an easy championship win next season.  That may sound presumptuous but could you deny it?  It could seem such an overkill, it might as well be in video games rather than on court.

Do you think Durant was right to move to the Warriors?  Would you have wanted to keep him in OKC?  Which other team would you have wanted Durant to move to instead?  Rant or rave in the comments section, and let me know what your thoughts are.

 

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