Kevin Durant has made arguably the biggest splash ever in the history of free agency. Many would argue LeBron’s decision to go to Miami or back to Cleveland was greater, but I would argue against it. If Durant moved to the Clippers, Knicks, or even the Celtics, it would not have been as big of a deal. Kevin Durant, unarguably a top 3 player in league, decided to leave the team that he helped lead a 3-1 lead over the defending champs to go to the 73 win team that made the epic comeback against the Thunder. The Warriors were tearing through teams most of the season, pushing for the title of “The Greatest Team of All-Time”. Imagine Wilt Chamberlain or Jerry West leaving to go join Russell’s Celtic teams. Imagine Charles Barkley or Dominique Wilkins joining the Celtics or Lakers in the 80. Imagine David Robinson or Karl Malone joining the 72-10 Bulls. We have never seen a player of Durant’s caliber leave to a team of this sort of stature. The Warriors were 5 points away from being back to back champions after winning 73 regular season games and their team already had Finals MVP winner Andre Iguodala, 2x Defensive Player of the Year Runner-Up Draymond Green, arguably the 2nd greatest shooter of all time who is capable of putting up 37 points in a quarter and 11 3s to hold off elimination in a much needed victory in the playoffs, the back to back MVP winner who also happens to be the first ever unanimous MVP in NBA history Steph Curry, and now they have acquired arguably the best scorer in the game and the last man to win MVP not named Curry, Kevin Durant.
The portion that many are wondering is whether or not there is too much star power for this to possibly work. I understand at first glance how this could be seen as an issue for people, but Durant is not joining the Warriors to keep losing. He is there to win and he will buy into the way they play. Durant is coming off of a 9 year career of a very ISO heavy offense in Oklahoma, so of course things are not going to click immediately, but players buy into the system and there is evidence to prove it. In the 2013-14 season the Golden State Warriors were 1st in ISO plays ran and dead last in passes per game. Whenever Kerr took over the Warriors did an immediate 180 and flipped the entire style of the team. The players collectively totally changed their style in the span of one offseason and became one of the greatest teams ever overnight. I see no reason Durant cannot have a similar change as his skill set fits seamlessly into what the Warriors do to teams.
The Warriors do not outlaw the use of ISOs ranking 21st in the league in ISO possession, but they rank in the 100th percentile (no that is not a typo). They use them in more strategic situations than we see most teams do. If they find a mismatch in the defense for example Steven Adams on Steph Curry, they immediately attack it. Durant has been a very heavily used PnR and ISO player, but neither one of those things has to go away. Durant will get plenty of chances to attack the offense 1 on 1. His game will have to be adapted slightly with a lower volume of the ISOs but that just makes for good basketball.
Defensively though is where the team becomes the most intriguing. Durant seems to somehow be underrated defensively by the average fan, but just look at the last two series he played in. Kawhi had wanted posters for going missing in the 4th quarter while guarded by Durant, and Draymond was totally taken out of almost the entire series when Durant was giving him hell. The death lineup just became that much scarier where we can expect to see the lineup of Curry-Klay-Iguodala-Durant-Green not only be even deadlier than before offensively, but they upgraded defensively as well. The frontcourt of Durant and Green is scary on both sides of the floor. Imagine getting Draymond switched off of you and instead you now have Klay guarding you. Then get another switch and Durant is guarding you with his ridiculous wingspan. The team with those guys rotating everywhere is something scary to think of.
Durant is an upgrade for the team in a way that it is hard to believe they could have gotten any better. Durant is another playmaking ball handler and we saw a glimpse of what he could do in a point forward role his MVP season with Westbrook out. The Warriors having another player who is willing to pass the ball and able to handle the role of running the offense just adds fuel to monstrous offense that is the Golden State Warriors.
Another thing that is oddly attached to a nearly perfect offense is the lack of post scoring for the Warriors. Well Kevin Durant shoots 60.9% and ranks in the 99.6th percentile in post up possessions. If there ever was a single hole in the offense it has been filled because there is not a better post up player in the NBA. Seriously. Durant has the highest points per possession, 2nd highest field goal percentage, and turns over the ball at an incredibly low 8.1%. Many claimed the Warriors needed a player who could score in the post and hell they got the very best at it.
The Warriors were already an amazing ground breaking historically dominating team and just somehow upgraded that not by a slight margin, but by landing a player who in the end could honestly go down as the most diverse and efficient scorer of all-time. This has totally changed the landscape of the NBA, as there are only 3 teams that are truly relevant in the big picture of being at least semi competitive with the juggernaut that is now the Golden State Warriors. The team has virtually no weakness on either end of the floor anymore and if injuries do not plague the team it is hard to imagine anyone having a chance of beating them in this upcoming season.