Kevin Durant shot up fireworks for the whole NBA world to see.
Kevin Durant decided to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and join the Golden State Warriors on July 4. He agreed to a 2-year deal worth 54.3 million dollars. The last year on the deal includes a player option.
This move changes the whole landscape of the NBA as the next super team has been formed. Golden State’s starting lineup as of right now is projected to be:
G Steph Curry
G Klay Thompson
F Kevin Durant
F Andre Iguodala
C Draymond Green
Although as of now that Golden State is the clear frontrunner to win the NBA Finals next year, it is not set in stone by any means. The first problem is a blessing and a curse; everyone in this lineup is a shooter. This means that there will not be enough shots to go around in order for everyone to contribute at their highest level. Curry (2nd), Thompson (8th), and Durant (10th) all finished in the top 10 in shot attempts last season.
At the end of Thunder games last year, Durant was visibly frustrated at Russell Westbrook and his other teammates for not getting him the ball. Durant will have to get used to this because a lineup featuring Curry, Thompson, and Green are just as capable as he is at making shots. Durant, much like LeBron, wants the game under his control and wants to take over a game. It will be hard for him to do this in Golden State.
Durant joining Golden State also makes their bench weaker due to salary cap restrictions. Key role players like Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli will have to sign elsewhere. Andrew Bogut will have to be traded in order to save cap. These moves deteriorate Golden State’s bench and puts the pressure on the starting lineup.
Though these are problems that need to be addressed, I don’t see it getting in the way of Golden State’s pursuit of another championship. This team has too much talent to come up short. With this in mind, I would like to steer the conversation towards my view on Kevin Durant.
There is no doubt that Kevin Durant is an elite player in the NBA. He can do it all whether it’s scoring, rebounding, passing, or playing defense. However, Kevin Durant leaving Oklahoma City for Golden State is a weak move on his part.
Durant going to Golden State has drawn a lot of comparisons to LeBron going to Miami in 2010. However, there are some distinct differences between the two. Although LeBron’s Cavaliers were always contenders in the East, LeBron’s best teammate he had was Shaquille O’Neal who was way past his prime. LeBron had to do it by himself and had little help in Cleveland. The Cavaliers were constantly sent home early during the playoffs and did not perform well in the NBA Finals once they got there. This is why I don’t fault LeBron for leaving.
Durant’s situation is different. The Thunder made it to the Western Conference Finals every year when Durant and Westbrook were both healthy. Durant’s Thunder had pieces and assets that LeBron’s Cavaliers did not have.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were a game away from being in the Finals this season. They had three chances to finish the Warriors off and were unable to capitalize. The Thunder didn’t finish games and allowed the Warriors to steal a trip to the Finals.
Durant is essentially joining the enemy here and is giving up on a Thunder team that has promise. To put this into comparison, this would be like A.J. Green signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers after they beat the Bengals in the playoffs. Not only would he be joining a bitter rival, but also he is joining the very team that beat him. This is essentially what Kevin Durant is doing.
I believe Kevin Durant should have stayed in Oklahoma City for one more year. Not only is the salary cap expected to skyrocket up, but Westbrook’s contract also ends next season as well. This gives Durant one more shot at a title with OKC and an excuse to leave if he is unsuccessful. It also allows him to move on and I wouldn’t fault him for it.
The Golden State Warriors will no doubt be an exciting team to watch next year. The NBA has never seen a team that can shoot like this one. I will be interested to see how this team plays with one another and if they will be stopped. Get your popcorn ready and hold on tight.