It’s all over lads, call it, we might as well not play the 2016-17 season. It’s just not fair, they’re going to be too good, they’ll win every year for the next decade. The news that Kevin Durant has signed with the Golden State Warriors has been met with a combination of dismay and anger from NBA fans around the globe. Fans of other teams assume that this is it for the foreseeable future, the Warriors will roll to title after glorious title over the coming years, there will be no hope for anyone else. Others have claimed that Durant is taking the easy option, almost cheating, by joining a team that is already so good. As a star player in this league Durant apparently needs to toil away in Oklahoma City, or move somewhere they haven’t competed in years. KD doesn’t get do it the easy way.
Both these statements are plainly ridiculous, Durant has every right to join whichever team he wants. He has spent the first 9 years of his hall of fame career on teams that have not been quite good enough to win a championship. So what if he has moved to a team which is already loaded with stars, it’s not like his OKC team was laking in talent. Durant has picked the Warriors for their system, their coach and their culture all of which give him the best chance to win a title. He doesn’t want end is career as part of the greatest never to win a title crowd along with Reggie Miller, Allen Iverson and Charles Barkley. Which is completely fair.
Also the idea that simply adding Durant automatically makes the Warriors the greatest team ever assembled is ludicrous. Championships are not won in free agency. It all looks great for the Warriors on paper but there will be adjustments to be made, egos to be soothed and further additions to the squad. How will Klay Thompson and Draymond Green cope with falling down the pecking order offensively? With Durant and Curry commanding a larger percentage of shots will Thompson and Green still be the lock down defenders they have been for the past 2 seasons? Is Durant a smart enough defender to adapt to the Warriors switch on everything defensive style? Who are the warriors going to bring in at centre?, a void that was exploited by Cleveland in this years finals. There are many obstacles both internally and externally to the Warriors becoming the juggernaut everyone expects.
If there is a coach in the NBA that can blend these four superstars into a winning formula it is Steve Kerr. He has always preached unselfish basketball, with an emphasis on ball movement and outstanding defence. But as we saw in the finals this can be hard to maintain when things start going against you, towards the end of the finals the Warriors started playing more and more hero ball as they felt their title slipping away. You could argue that the addition of Durant gives the Warriors a far superior isolation player if they find themselves in a similar situation in the future, but that is not why Durant has joined. He wants to play in the Warriors high motion offensive system, he absolutely does not want to go back to the iso heavy scheme he has played in OKC for the majority of his career.
The success of the Warriors will hinge on how easily Durant adapts and equally how his new teammates adapt to him. If all goes to plan the Warriors will have a big man who can pass surrounded by four players, who are equally dangerous from 3 point range as well as driving to the basket, creating absolute havoc for opposing defences. On the other hand there is a possibility that it will end up with too many guys trying to fill the same role, you will have 3 playmakers on the floor in Curry, Green and Durant, 2 elite scorers in Durant and Curry and 4 players who love to shoot the 3. Kerr will need to be sure that his team know their individual roles otherwise organised chaos will just become chaos.
Unfortunately for Durant whatever happens over his time at Golden State he will probably be judged harshly. Win and he couldn’t do it without Steph and company, loose and he was a destructive force in breaking up a winning formula. I hope sincerely for Durant that it goes well for him as he seems like one of the genuine nice guys in the league. And who knows maybe he’ll win a couple of titles out in the bay, then return to OKC to deliver the franchise’s first championship. Sound familiar?