Community Shootaround: Warriors Without Durant

When Kevin Durant limped off the court on May 8, there were concerns that his strained calf could end the Warriors’ quest for a third straight NBA title and maybe even knock them out in the second round.

Golden State pulled out Game 5 against the Rockets that night and hasn’t lost since, building a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors have reverted back to a brand of basketball that was successful before Durant arrived, with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all taking expanded roles on offense.

That’s important not only for the rest of the playoffs, but maybe for next season as rumors continue  that Durant will leave for the Knicks or possibly somewhere else this summer. Although the Warriors finally have full Bird rights on Durant and can offer him more than anyone else, the challenge of succeeding in a new situation might be more important to him than money.

Although it won’t be easy to replace 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game, Golden State would essentially go back to the same team that won a title and then 73 games in the two seasons before Durant arrived. Curry has reverted to his MVP form since Durant’s injury, and Thompson and Green have been better as well with more shots available.

There has been talk that the Warriors are better without Durant, but Sam Amick of The Athletic dismisses that as a ridiculous notion. He points out that Durant has been the MVP of the last two NBA Finals and that the team didn’t reach a dynasty level until Durant arrived.

Durant’s teammates don’t believe it either.

“I think everybody in this organization knows that we’re a better team with Kevin,” Quinn Cook told Amick after Thursday’s game. “… He’s been a superstar since he’s been in the league, so there’s a different narrative every day. I think he’s used to that. (But) he has a relationship with everybody on the team, so I think he knows how we all feel about him. … Everybody has to step up in his absence. That’s really the biggest thing. Everybody has been stepping up because we know we don’t have the best player on our team.”

We want to get your opinion on how the Warriors will survive without Durant — during the rest of the playoffs if he can’t return and next season if he signs somewhere else. Please leave your answers in the space below.

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40 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Warriors Without Durant

  1. acarneglia

    I think the Warriors are fine without him now, because Portland doesn’t have many threats outside of Dame, CJ, and Hood. But once they see Milwaukee in the finals, I’m assuming of course, they could be overmatched. The Bucks are loaded with talent with Giannis, Bledsoe, Middleton, Brogdon, Lopez, and the list goes on.

    • Agree, always said Portland was gonna be easier than Denver for GSW, & look even without KD & DMC they are already 3-0, so finals are secured… but like acarneglia says can’t see them beating the Bucks without KD, no chance, with him might be a 50-50 only.

      • Who are the Bucks? You’ve got to get to the finals once before you can win. Look for Milwaukee next year. They’re good, in fact very good. But I think getting to the finals is a huge step for them.

    • whoneedsfacts

      Agree 100%. Hate to say it but the Blazers aren’t built to beat GS. Bucks on the other hand are as deep as it gets and lead by the MVP front-runner. GS will have an extremely hard time with the Bucks if they don’t have KD.

  2. 2012orioles

    They’re not better without Durant, but this all proves why the nba shouldn’t have allowed him to join the warriors. Without Durant, they had the best regular season of ALL TIME. And they are allowed to add Durant? He’s no doubt a top 2 player in the league. Its ruined the game. No one should be surprised when they win they’re third in a row, fourth in five years. It’s zero competition. Durant was one game away from beating them with OKC, and he joins them. What kind of competitor does that? People compare it to Lebonn joining the heat, which is not even close. The heat without Lebron were no where near the talent of the warriors before Durant. That warriors thunder series was amazing. The warriors cavs finals in 2016 was amazing. There is no competition from anyone today. Yeah there have been good series, but it’s like watching a movie where you know the ending. Warriors will win. I’ve watched almost zero playoff games since the warriors got Durant. I like Mlb, nfl, and nhl more than the nba, so I’m not at the top of nba fandom, but I still loved watching all do the great finals matchups we’ve seen in recent time. Being a wizards fan hasn’t helped either, since they’ve been hard to watch lately, but I’d always watch the playoffs when they didn’t make it and watched a ton of wizards games, even in their bad seasons. I’m ready for Durant to move on and make the league more competitive and exciting

    • xtraflamy
      xtraflamy

      …allowed? How could the NBA prevent it? It was a free agent decision working within the established cap rules. It’s not like the Warriors did something mysterious in building their team, so why doesn’t anyone else do it? The Warriors drafted amazing, underrated, overlooked talent, and then made room for a great player during an historic run. Do you just expect them to stop trying to get better? In history, what elite person, company, team, or country quits trying to get better? The Warriors know what they have, and they are going to maximize the value of it while they have it.
      Who knows what Durant will do, but I do know that a big part of his decision for coming to GSW was the system — built around unselfish, extremely intelligent, players. A system that has literally changed how basketball is played with amazing floor spacing, electric ball movement, full team contributions, gritty defense, and elite perimeter shooting. The system takes the pressure off so players can enjoy a flowing, beautiful game without the tired old one- or two-dawg, iso/selfish, downhill run. Durant is a student of the game, so why wouldn’t he want to go learn from what he sees as an innovative system that is changing the game he loves? Everyone who strives for greatness achieves it through hard work and by constantly learning. The best always recruit the best, and seek to always get better. That which does not adapt gets left behind.
      All this talk of “cupcakes” and lack of competitiveness reveals a shallow depth of strategic acumen, and jealousy blinds folks to the fact that these are decisions that masters in their disciplines make — to learn, to adapt, to achieve. All the complaints about how it’s just not fair just come off as whiny and undignified.

        • ppyxmb

          I have a proposal, which I’d like to hear the community’s thoughts on: how about the NBA forbids either all decision champs (or al teams above .75) to sign any players except their own & drafted players.

          This way we’d have a lot more competitive balance:
          – no good veterans complementing super teams on the cheap (DMC, et al)
          – good teams valuing their draft picks and 2WP
          – no stuff like an MVP-level player joining a 73-win team.

          • tharrie0820

            “Sorry DeMarcus, we know Golden State offered you the most money, but we can’t let you play for them cause they’re too good.”

          • As I said before, the solution is a HARD SALARY CAP NO EXCEEDING IT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE.

            No mid-level exception none of that crap. A hard cap.

            If I only have 1 million left to pay 4 guys so be it. Then sit out. Don’t play. Play somewhere else whatever.

            That’s the only solution and I don’t know why the league doesn’t do it. Well I do know why but….

      • 2012orioles

        Warriors did nothing wrong. They should be all in to get the best players, as any team should. I didn’t say anything about the warriors pursueing Durant. The league blocked Chris Paul to the clippers so I’d assume they can block fa signings too. That’s my problem is that it was allowed, not that the warrriors pursued the best players. And I disagree with your stance on Durant. The “if you can’t beat em, join em” phrase is pretty much a joke, but Durant actually did it. What if lebron last summer joined the warriors. Would you still claim your last 2 paragraphs? It’s dumb. Do you honestly think the warriors are gonna lose to anyone? And if they do, 2 stars on the warriors played like trash and we end up seeing a poorly played basketball game (compared to two teams at the top of their game going head to head)

        • ABStract

          I still don’t see your point…u’d like the league to dictate rosters?
          And the whole KD joining the team that beat him thing is so ridiculous, get the hell over it. The dubs were the perfect fit for his game and his mindset.
          And when the bulls were dominating the 90’s no one cried about it, we were all just happy to get to see the game taken to another level by one of the best teams ever assembled.
          Maybe try appreciating the historical aspect of what we’re seeing, who knows if there will ever be a team like this again, especially if people like u get your way

          • 2012orioles

            Not dictate rosters at all just don’t let something this outrageous happen. Who was the 2nd best player in the nba that joined mj? It didn’t happen. Continue to watch your spoiled movie. It’s not greatness when a player the talent of kd joins a historically good warriors team. That’s what we should’ve enjoyed, was the greatness of them separately and watch them battle for years. And I’ve gotten over it. I didn’t watch any nba and kds a free agent now

            • snotrocket

              KD is the best player in the league. If you are going to present a narrative, at least get the details right.

            • The Bulls needed an enforcer and rebounder Defender.

              No sorry you can’t sign Dennis Rodman. He’s too good at that. Sorry.

            • x%sure

              Well now it’s a rant. I have stopped following leagues too but not because a team got too good.

              The league blocked the Paul thing because they were running the NOLA franchise; the decision was made at the franchise level (or so they claimed, if I recall.) There really isn’t a precedent for doing something like blocking Durant’s movement. In America, I’m not sure there should be.

        • xtraflamy
          xtraflamy

          @2012orioles you missed my point getting so caught up in the game results. Durant is one of the best in the league — where is he going to go to get better at his craft? Where is he going to go to learn that you can share and win? Where is he going to learn a different way to play and succeed?
          When a player gets to a high enough level they literally cannot learn by trying to carry a team that cannot win without you. There is no personal challenge in that. No way to stretch your skills. No path to transcend. It’s like staying in 8th grade for no reason. Durant needed to graduate.
          Maybe he’s learned enough and he’s going to chase happiness and wealth off the court. Maybe he will stay and see what next level he can achieve. Maybe the next challenge is to see what happens when an elite team ages and see how can they continue to win. We’ll see.

          • x%sure

            Another spot-on… Good page here. Reminds me of how high school athletes in some states can be blocked from transferring to the detriment of the players and the level of competition. Unfortunately Ohio is in that boat and it’s wrong– and so is recruiting schools beating up on regular public schools in the postseason. There can be separate tournaments.

    • ColossusOfClout

      More competitive and exciting, like when he was in OKC? The NBA has the most boring, predictable post season of any league. The chaos of the NHL playoffs puts the NBA to shame.

      • x%sure

        I find predictability to be overrated as a measure of a show’s quality. BigBangTheory featured predictable jokes but was consistently audience top-rated by far (it just ended BTW).

        I like the storylines, though not often the ones espn wants to shove down my throat.

  3. jump shot

    Simple math… Milwaukee has 2 guys in their top 8 (the Greek Freak and, by default, Lopez) that would start for Golden State. No way in hell they beat Golden State FOUR TIMES in a 7-game series. Won’t happen.

  4. x%sure

    They can win games short-term missing anyone from their lineup. But long-term, carrying more of a load wears players down. Draymond put out an incredible amount of energy tonight… He cannot do that 100 times a year.

    In due course it will be said that Durant and GSW crashed together during the middle years of both, Durant helping to extend the GSW dynasty before moving on, like Neil Young with Crosby Stills and Nash. (rhymes with splash!)

    BTW Draymond is a dirty MAX player (not just a dirty player) who should have been drafted earlier in 2013 when big10TV panel commentators just SMH when the pro scouts said he was a second rounder– no sell job attempted, no worries about Green’s survival. It was just the fault of NBA scouting and someone was getting a ridiculous bargain.

  5. Stoop Down Low

    Durant’s competition, on one level, is LeBron James. And Michael Jordan. Wherever he goes, he will build the legend. Meanwhile LA is pretty quiet at the moment with LBJ. Has his time passed altogether? If KD is chasing legends then he has to move on. If the Durant move to the Warriors showed anything, it’s that players run the league – they generate the revenue, the make the money personally, they get the fame, the adulation, the whole thing. That’s not going to change. People say the league should do this or that, well that’s nice, but the players run the league. The lesson from Durant/Warriors is that ultimately the top talent is going to police itself as far as spreading the talent around. The league grew unbalanced with Durant on the Warriors, but so what? It’s been unbalanced before for years and years but back then the players had no leverage, or didn’t know they had leverage. Right now the players are sophisticated business people who benefit from the representation of the best suits in the business. Totally different ballgame. But now it seems Durant is going to seek his fulfillment elsewhere and for his own set of reasons. Self regulating, as it should be.

    • By this logic then we should not recognize the 60s Celtics dynasties.

      They had all the great players and All Stars. Not fair. Asterik.

  6. Their record without Durant speaks for itself. They’re 31-1 with Durant out and Curry in. They had the best record of all time and won a championship before he arrived. That being said, they’re still better off with him because he’s a great player which takes pressure off the others and keeps them fresher over the course of the full season. With or without him they’re a nearly unbeatable team in a 7 game series and would be heavy favourites to win a championship.

    • I think it was 31-1 with EITHER Durant OR Curry out. Not Durant out and curry in.

      But that shows how great Durant and Curry are. They can carry the team with the other hi scorer out of the lineup. Well, them plus the rest of the squad who’s pretty good also.

  7. Reflect

    I don’t think the Warriors are better without Durant, but I think they are happier without Durant. This is a team that grew up and came up together, an organization that preached having fun and sharing the ball.

    When Durant is on the floor he dominates the ball and the offense. He’s just so good that no one else really has to do anything. Without Durant, the team has roles for everyone, from Draymond to Looney.

    • Simple Fan

      Nope. 1/100% does that award go to the losing team. It can’t be said.

      Besides, KD can go to a lot of different teams. I’m not sure I understand your comment.

  8. Simple Fan

    If Cousins gets healthy and the Warriors shed Green and KD. That’s how they will survive.
    Blazers without off-time in the WCF. Warrior players’ hands in the face basketball. That’s how too

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