Kevin Durant is undoubtedly one of the top singular talents in the entire NBA right now but, are the Warriors a better team without him on the floor? In the wake of a strained right calf that has sidelined Durant since Game 5 of the Conference Semifinals, this idea has been floating around the association, as the Warriors continue to play Championship caliber basketball even without KD. Prior to the injury, Durant was averaging a remarkable 34.2 points per game on 51% shooting in the postseason, elevating his game to another level after posting 26.0 a night in the regular season.
The Five Year Dynasty
Durant’s individual greatness gets overlooked at times, in part due to the incredible run the Warriors have put together in the last five seasons, even prior to his arrival in the Bay Area. He joined a franchise in 2016, that had just broken the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls record for regular season wins, finishing 73-9, and coming up just short of capturing a second straight NBA title at the time. After the acquisition of Durant, this number of regular season wins has steadily dropped from 73 to 67 in his first season, then 58 and 57 in the next two. The Warriors took home the NBA Finals in Durant’s first two seasons, and he was awarded Finals MVP in each of those two series. Playoff success is far more important than regular season wins, so why do people consider them to be better without their “Most Valuable Player” when it matters the most?
Too Much Fire-Power
Many people believe that the Warriors are not a better team without Durant rather, they are just forced to adjust their style of play accordingly. Durant is someone that can get an isolation bucket, pretty much at will, which is a luxury for Steve Kerr and the rest of the team to have at their disposal. With that being said, the Warriors are forced to work harder for open shots, play faster and move the ball more without him on the floor. This is evidently something that they are very good at. In the games that Durant has missed, Stephen Curry has elevated his game to another level, scoring 35 ppg on 46% shooting and he isn’t the only one. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have also been spectacular in the games without KD. Both Thompson and Green have been perennial All-Stars since joining Golden State, something that has been overlooked since the acquisition of Durant.
The Warrior Way
There is an infatuation with superstar tandems in the NBA, people believe that the only way to win an NBA championship is to have two superstars carry their team to the promised land. Fortunately for Golden State in losing arguably their most talented player in Durant, they have a “next superstar up” mentality. Enter Klay Thompson. Curry and Thompson are arguably the two greatest long-range shooters in NBA history, being coined “The Splash Brothers” several years ago for their lethal aerial attack on opposing defenses. No matter how great Kevin Durant plays, this will always be looked at as Steph Curry’s franchise. With the calf injury, along with his highly anticipated free agency looming, the Warriors aren’t concerned with getting Durant on the floor. Golden State is again favorited by almost 6 points even with Durant officially ruled out. They are only concerned with winning, even if it means taking it back to the basics – The Splash Brothers.