Just Thinking: Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
Some things are easy to predict. For instance when it comes to the NBA Finals the storylines coming out after the champion was decided are as follows.
Since Golden State won the rings Kevin Durant knew something that his critics didn't and that all the criticism he got for joining the Warriors was wrong.
I guess that depends on why you were critical of the move. First off Golden State did nothing wrong in signing Durant. They're supposed to build the best team possible and adding Durant was a great move.
Super teams have always existed and this version is good but I've seen better.
From my point of view Durant's move is validated only if you think the end justifies the means. If you think leaving a team to join the team that beat you in the Western Conference Finals is made okay by winning a championship you probably were cool with it to begin with.
The notion that Durant knew something or we learned something about him is laughable.
Everyone predicted Golden State would be good and they'd win the championship. Everyone knew Durant was a supreme talent and when he joined a team with three other star level players they'd be unstoppable.
Durant is not Kevin Garnett, who toiled away in Minnesota for 12 years and got past the first round of the playoffs once before being talked into heading to Boston.
Kevin Durant was on a team that went to four Western Conference Finals in six years and one NBA Finals. He was a four time scoring champion and perennial All NBA selection while playing in Oklahoma City.
This is not to say he was obligated to stay in OKC. He was a free agent but where he went said a lot about him considering 36 days earlier he was locked in a furious battle with the Warriors. How competitive are you to achieve what seems to allude you? His work ethic can't be questioned. His competitive nature can.
The next storyline is that Golden State is the best team ever. Those who push this idea can bring about all sorts of stats. The 16-1 playoff record. The margin of victories throughout the playoffs, regular season wins, three point shooting etc.
I like stats and they are useful tools but they also are often used to justify an opinion we already have. For those younger than me. I'm not some old guy trying to say my generation is better than yours or deny you the joy of what you witnessed with Golden State. It was impressive but it seems when debating where the Warriors rank among the great teams of the past there is very little talk about the matchup's. It's always one teams numbers against the other.
Michael Jordan's Bulls won 72 games but I don't think they're the best team ever anymore than I think the '72 Miami Dolphins that went 17-0 and won the Super Bowl are the best NFL team. Why? Players and how they'd matchup against other great teams.
When discussing the Warriors' greatness it's on the perimeter. Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. All can dribble, pass and shoot from distance and they play defense. But there is no one playing today that can exploit their weakness. Lack of size.
Take the Los Angeles Lakers of say 1987. Kevin Durant's a tough matchup for anyone today or 30 years ago. But the difference between Durant and James Worthy, the Lakers small forward in 1987, is not nearly as big a gap when comparing ZaZa Pachulia or Javale McGee to Lakers center Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Jabbar is the leagues all time leading scorer and they all came on two pointers. The difference between Jabbar and the Warriors bigs is massive. I could go through the matchup's but the cliff notes version is that the team 30 years ago had it going on with interior and perimeter stars. Fewer teams then meant deeper benches. Bench players that would be starters today(Michael Cooper, Michael Thompson Bob McAdoo).
Then there's the coaching. That's not a knock on Steve Kerr, who's really good but at this point he and his staff and the players at Golden State haven't been through the wars and been hardened the way Pat Riley and company had been after battles with Boston and Philadelphia throughout the 80's. I'm not saying they'd be swept. I am saying teams with Hall of Fame talent inside and out would be a matchup they'd have problems with. Whether discussing teams or players and who's the best it's best you let some time pass and get away from the emotion and desire to be the first to say "They're the best ever."