OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

KD is on Golden State...PRAY!

KD is on Golden State...PRAY!

This time a month ago, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder had just blown the Golden State Warriors out twice in Chesapeake Arena en route to a commanding 3-1 series lead. A month later and Kevin Durant leaves the team that drafted him to go to the team the Thunder had pushed to the aforementioned brink. It’s not really surprising but obviously it’s a huge move in the landscape of the NBA. What does it mean for the NBA? There are a lot of things to uncover about the move that are basketball related and some that really aren’t.

Firstly, KD has been blowing a lot of hot air in the general direction of anybody who would listen for years.

These excerpts are from ESPN’s Royce Young who covers the Thunder for the network.

"Don't get me wrong, I want to win a championship more than anybody, but if you go through the journey we've gone through, you can also appreciate other things. I'm no frontrunner."

“He was angered by former teammate Reggie Jackson wanting a trade. “I never liked guys that didn't want to be here," Durant said.”

“Durant pushed back against it being his team or Westbrook's team. He talked constantly about being "the leader," almost repeating it to a point so that he would believe it himself. He sarcastically texted friends about wondering why the same wasn't asked about Curry and Klay Thompson. The pass-happy rhythm and flow offense is one Durant has always longed for, but the Thunder struggled to adapt to that. “

“Privately, Durant was annoyed with a perceived media infatuation with the Warriors and Curry. He joked about how the Warriors were suddenly the "poster child" for the league. He expressed angst to friends about how they could seemingly do no wrong.”

People change and all of that but his whole steez for the last eight years looks hilariously funny in the light.  Besides the extracurricular stuff, it’s my opinion that it is ridiculous that we judge athletes on standards that we would never set for ourselves. If you have an opportunity to make a gang of money for a rival company, work in a fun environment and move from a relatively boring state to California, who’s turning that down? Why basketball players are the only ones that have caveats with regards to taking new jobs or chasing advancement or rank within their jobs is beyond me. We don’t even do this shit with athletes in other sports. It’s weird.

“Well, this guy (read damn near any superstar who played in the 80s or 90s) who used to work for this company wouldn’t do that.” Yeah because FREE(you see that word?) agency was totally the same in the 80s and 90s and guys who were already playing with a gang of Hall of Famers should have been DYING to go elsewhere.

“You’re supposed to reach the pinnacle and we’ll clown you if you don’t but you must reach the pinnacle in a favorable manner”

In essence, KD took the best opportunity for advancement. Singularly, in my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. He wants to win. He wants to have fun on the court and I’m assuming he was tired of living in Oklahoma City. All of the people pleasing he did, all of the contradictory quotes, and the damage control his people are going to do from now until god knows when is a little wack to me. I read a piece from Howard Beck where someone apparently close to KD expressed that he was frustrated with Westbrook and the offense and that played a big part in this. That’s cool and all but where is the accountability on KD’s end for his part in shitting away the 3-1 lead the Thunder had over the Warriors?

Was it Westbrook’s fault that Durant was 22-62 and 4/19 from 3 in games 5 and 6? Was it the offense being stagnant that caused Durant to go 1-8 for 4 points in arguably the biggest quarter in the history of the franchise(game 6, 4th quarter)? KD made his move and that’s fine but he and his people can keep it and chill with the driving the bus over people on the way out. That shit is lame especially when no looking in the mirror is involved.  But overall, saying all that he has said and then fleeing for a team that knocked them out of the playoffs in that fashion is a little weird. I’m not judging or begrudging him for it but I can acknowledge the unprecedented nature of it. Also I can appreciate the laughs at the fact that NBA execs apparently have a problem that NBA players can *somewhat* freely choose where they can play and that came to a head with Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder on INDEPENDENCE DAY. Even I can appreciate the poetic nature of that.

And I’ve been reading a lot with regards to LeBron and the move he made in 2010 as opposed to this one. They aren’t really that similar because one is joining a team that won 73 games and is largely intact while the other was joining a team that started Carlos Arroyo and Joel Anthony opening night. If you had a problem with LeBron doing what he did, then you probably should have a problem with what Durant did. If you thought LeBron was just in what he did, then you probably should feel the same with Durant. But as we know in these hot button sports debates, goalposts move and consistency lacks. Both of them made moves to better their chances of winning.

Enough of the talk about the noise surrounding the move and let’s talk about the basketball aspect. Gee, where to begin? The Warriors are going to destroy everything offensively with those four guys healthy.

This is nothing like anything we’ve even with the blend of age and shooting that the Warriors currently possess. We always talk about chemistry concerns with new teammates and there is something to be said for that for sure. The type of shooting the Warriors now have should make it easier for the team to mesh. They have four all NBA players, none who are older than 28 years old.

What are you supposed to do when Curry and Durant are running a pick and roll together? How are you supposed to defend that exactly? When Draymond is barreling down the lane in the 4 on 3 situations he’s seen so much and he has Durant and Thompson in the corners, what are you supposed to do? When everything breaks down and KD takes whichever defender off the bounce and gets an easy two after a good defensive possession, what to do? How will teams deal with the fact that they will probably have to guard Klay Thompson with their THIRD best perimeter defender?

It will be a nominal challenge of sorts for the Warriors to fill out their roster with credible players but having G Shaun Livington, F Angre Iguodala, and newly signed C Zaza Pachulia is a good start. They’re going to need some able bodies to tighten up their rebounding. I don’t think the depth is as worrisome as people claim it will be given that most title level teams aren’t deep. And in the postseason, you’re mostly playing eight guys at most during games. Hell, being shallow might force Kerr to stop trying them goofy ass lineups he likes to toss out there from time to time.

An added bonus in all of this for the Warriors is that Durant effectively destroyed their last true test in the Western Conference and who knows how long it will take another one to emerge. Going from being that close to an NBA Finals to watching your “humble”, “loyal” prodigal son go to the team that knocked you out has got to sting for OKC fans. Klay Thompson’s legendary shooting barrage in the second half of that game has changed the course of NBA history on so many levels. Who knows what happens if OKC wins that game? This whole piece probably doesn’t exist.

In conclusion it’s funny how the CBA was specifically designed to stop superteams partially because of how unfair it is league wide and to small market teams but yet here we sit with the NBA being a two team race for the 2017 championship. From an entertainment standpoint this is a bit of a buzzkill, but I really just don’t care that much outside of laughing at the constant goalpost moving in the discussions surrounding it.  Maybe I’m just so desensitized to all of this shit because my team never competes for anything of circumstance or maybe I understand why athletes would try their darnedest to put themselves in the best situations to win considering we ask why athletes don’t do exactly that (see: Anthony, Carmelo who people wanted to give 50 million dollars up to play with a team who’s PG’s knees are made of cocaine and pixie dust).

What I do know though? The rest of the NBA has got to pray because this is a buzzsaw the likes of which we have never seen and they’re here to run roughshod over the league for the next three to four years at minimum. Good luck, guys. 

Just My Thoughts Vol. 3

Just My Thoughts Vol. 3

What Are We Missing?

What Are We Missing?