Is Kevin Durant a Necessity or Luxury?
The Golden State Warriors have been the poster team for success in the NBA over the last two years. The core group features three all stars in Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson, who combined with a strong bench had enough to win two championships although only succeeding in one. This is a team that not only had a Lebron James led team down 3-1 in the finals after the winning it the previous year, but also set a new record for most games won in a season. Nobody can blame the Warriors for the offseason moves they made last summer after losing that vast of a lead in the finals. Seemingly shipping off Festus Ezeli and Harrison Barnes to make way for Durantula. As of one of the 313 million active monthly users on Twitter I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the jokes about Barnes and Ezeli being “horrible” and “trash” last year in the finals. Let’s be honest, Harrison Barnes had a worse finals series than I did and I didn’t even play. When I saw tweets like“Ohhh Steve Kerr was on the sideline eating edibles when he put Festus in the close of game 7, it make sense now” it was retweeted with a quickness. So shipping those players off in addition to journeyman Leandro Barbosa for Kevin Durant obviously caused no draw back with warriors fans, but how will they feel if KD isn't available? Is this Warriors team good enough to win the championship with no KD, and missing 3 bench pieces? All jokes aside yes Barnes and Ezeli may have come up small in game 7 of the finals, but the reason the Warriors were able to dominate the regular season, continue success in the playoffs and get to the finals was a large part due to their bench. As the Warriors consider holding out Durant for game 2 with a calf strain in this Blazers series my mind wanders to the question: With Curry, Green, and Thompson still running the show is KD a necessity to win the championship or a luxury?
I didn’t even know KD had a calf but apparently its strained. This comes only a handful of games after Durant’s return from his knee injury. The Warriors made headlines for losing two in a row and going 2-5 in the immediate games after Kevin’s injury. Then they made headlines again 2 weeks later as they wrapped up their 12th consecutive victory without him. The defense picked back up in a big way, Iguodala, Livingston, and Clark stepped up in bigger roles and the core 3 found their 2015-16 rhythm.
Yeah, it took the Dubs a little time to find their footing when Durant initially went out with the knee injury. They lost 5 of 7 and had Warrior fans stuck in their own corny version of the Mr. Krabs meme. But then the Warriors remembered who they were and started blitzing folk again.
In my opinion , Durant isn't a necessity for this Portland series. He’s not needed for the Warriors to beat either the Clippers or Jazz in the next round and he’s not an absolute must have to beat the Spurs or Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. However with KD available and healthy regardless if he's playing with a recent shape up or not he is a series shrinker. Warriors might go 7 with the Clippers or with the Spurs and I believe with Durant on the floor he wins you an additional game sooner and helps Golden State win in 6. That effect is huge for the team in getting more rest before the finals which we all believe will be a rematch to last year’s rematch. As for the championship series, I think Kevin Durant is a necessity to win the finals this year. People associate KD with his ability to score from virtually anywhere ,as they should, but his defensive prowess for the Warriors is a bigger key for the team’s postseason success.
I'm with you, James. At this point KD is a necessity because of what they lost to get him. You mentioned his defense this year and you're spot on. His defense gets lost in his all-time great scoring ability but it is sorely underrated. KD was GSW's best rim protector during the regular season (although Dray's two blocks in games 1 & 2 may have that crown back with the nut-puncher in no time).
But here's something thats a tad interesting to me: The Warriors are much scarier when Steph is their best player. Let's get one thing straight, Steph is not a better basketball player than KD and probably never will be. But when Steph is the best player FOR the Warriors they are impossible to guard. The game has eased for Durant in Oakland but they tend to go iso-heavy at times when he's on the court. It gives the defense a time to rest when the ball isn't whipping around the perimeter.
The Dubs are impossible to guard when they are running that high pick-and-roll damn near half court with Steph at the helm but they get away with it when KD gets in his groove. But who are we kidding? This team is great enough to win the title this season with or without KD's naps on the court. As you said though, KD would shorten series' and that's key because if you remember during last year's finals, one team looked fresh (Cavs) while the other looked worn out after playing a long, grueling 7-game series vs the Thunder (Warriors). Getting teams out in a timely fashion goes a long, long way, and thats what KD would do.
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