What almost every NBA fan feared has happened; Kevin Durant has joined the Golden State Warriors.
The best free agent on the market and one of the best players in the game today has joined one of the most stacked teams in NBA history, creating a “super team” the likes of which has not been seen since the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s/early 90s.
But for every successful super team, there has been one that has failed. These teams are not exempt from the due process to winning that is followed by other teams.
To win a championship, near perfection is required from every facet of the organisation. The front office, coaching staff and playing group must all be operating in the 99th percentile, or else failure is inevitable.
With the front office having finished their job (for now), and booked themselves a healthy Christmas bonus from the ownership, it is over to the coaching and playing group to sort out this “winning” thing.
Can Kevin Durant really fit on a team with so many other superstars? Is there enough ball to go around? Are we about to witness unprecedented basketball brilliance or too much of a good thing?
For all the success Durant has seen in his career, he has never operated in a team like this – a team with such a highly tuned, versatile and well-balanced offence that you’d be lying if you said you didn’t want to play in it.
On the surface, the above buzzwords make it seem like KD is a perfect fit in this offence. First and foremost he is an offensive weapon, and to describe his offensive game, you might also use phrases and words such as the above.
Shooting defines Golden State. Their current big three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all do it excellently, and it is at the heart of almost every play they run, and why shouldn’t it be?
With this in mind, you can hypothesise that Kevin Durant fits in excellently. He also shoots at an elite level, and his size and wingspan makes it almost impossible for a defender to block his shot.
Per Synergy Sports, the three most common ways the Warriors scored in 2015-16 were in transition, spot up shooting and shooting off the screen, all situations in which Durant is comfortable scoring in.
Spotting up in particular was something KD did often with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Out of a Russell Westbrook pick and roll, Kevin Durant would commonly find himself open on the weak side through the sheer offensive gravity Westbrook commands.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson both commonly attack this way out of pick and rolls also, with either/or filling the ball handler/spot up shooter roll, with Harrison Barnes filling the second spot up option.
With Barnes now replaced by Durant, Golden State simply become more lethal, with KD a bigger threat to both shoot and drive than Barnes was.
The Warriors also frequented the low post split – a play starting with ball in the low post with a series of screens being set in the high post to get a shooter open for three or a back door cut to the basket.
Usually, this would feature just Draymond Green initiating the play from the post. Now, Golden State has added an elite post up scorer to their roster, the play operates all the more smoothly.
Not only does the defence have to worry about the immense threat of a Curry or Thompson three, but also the immense threat of a Kevin Durant post up. You can hardly double team and you can hardly not – you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.
Damn, can pretty much sum up the sentiments of the rest of the league next year. Given how good the Warriors were last year, it would be a major surprise to have them not win it next year.
As explained, I think Durant fits perfectly into Golden State’s shoot heavy offence.
The only way he may not is if he were not versatile enough to operate in the plays they run. But as we know, KD is potentially the most versatile offensive weapon in the league.
To all those holding onto the small sliver of hope that this goes horribly wrong, this may not come as very welcome reading. Best to just sit back and enjoy what we are about to see.