Not that it takes away the sting and abject misery of losing in the NBA Finals- that game 7 loss will remain in the Warriors psyche for a lifetime- the acquisition of Kevin Durant allows the Warriors to exhale. If all things remain equal, the Warriors will maintain their dominance at the top of the Western Conference by Durant’s presence. Furthermore, Durant in tow allows them to turn the page and focus on next year and how they are going to make the Durant-Steph Curry tandem work.
While Durant adds another offensive option, his inclusion will take away touches from someone else and it looks as if Klay Thompson is going to be the fall guy.
Durant is an iso player who can drain threes but he creates off the dribble and gets in the lane. Last season his usage rate was 30.6%. In his nine NBA seasons, his usage rate has topped the 30% plateau five times, with his high of 33.0% three seasons ago.
Steph Curry had a usage rate of 32.6% last season. So who is going to take a step back with the ball? Curry or Durant?
It’s a problem most NBA teams would want to have and Steve Kerr is going to be under tremendous pressure to find a way to legitimize and keep happy his MVP players while legitimizing the rest of the team. Kerr had a horrible NBA Finals and was repeatedly out coached and out maneuvered. He won’t be judged until the playoffs nor will the addition of Kevin Durant. Durant was brought in to make the Warriors better but rest assured, Durant was not brought in to fix what was wrong.
The Warriors are still starving for point guard defenders. In the Finals, Curry was exposed by Kyrie Irving who did whatever he wanted to do. Curry repeatedly was in foul trouble and some of it was attributed to the fact he wasn’t completely healthy. But even when healthy, Curry’s defense borders on average.
The West is filled with explosive dynamic point guards the Warriors have to figure out how to stop. The methodology of outscoring teams failed them big time in the Finals. When the pressure was immense, as NBA Hall of Famers have shouted from the rooftops, jump shooters legs get tired.
Trading Andrew Bogut for salary cap flexibility to handle the contract of Durant hurts the Warriors when they get to the playoffs. They brought in Zaza Pachulia, a slow, mediocre center with size who is no match for DeAndre Jordan, Pau Gasol, Steven Adams, Marc Gasol…the list goes on and on. What was exposed in the playoffs was that 6-7 Draymond Green can be frustrated by going small against big and he does stupid things as a reaction. The Cavaliers proved that a big and athletic front court who rebounds can beat the Warriors at their own game.
The LeBron James problem has not been solved. The Warriors have no answer and that makes them like every other NBA team. But since Cavs-Warriors part 3 is predicted in June of 2017, the Warriors in this off-season needed a player to be able to control LeBron James.
Kevin Durant is not it.
Durant has played James 16 times and lost 13 times. Durant has been extrardinary in the matchups. 15 times he has scored 24 points or more. He has dropped 30 seven times. He even managed a 40 point game. But he always loses to James. Always. He has never beaten LeBron when LeBron donned the Cavs win and gold jersey, only when LeBron was with the Heat. Like Steph Curry, he lost to LeBron James in the NBA Finals.
And so in a way, despite the euphoria, the Warriors are repeating history. They have a brilliant offensive player. They got rid of a underperformer in Harrison Barnes. They lost Andrew Bogut. They are better in one aspect of the game and worse in another. And they did absolutely nothing to help themselves beat LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers
photo via llananba.