I happen to work with a
Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving fan, which means things have been kinda rough since about the time that the Golden State Warriors lost Game 3 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
I would ask for sympathy, but the Kevin Durant signing made everything considerably better.
Nevertheless, when I came into work yesterday, everyone had something to say about the signing (don't ask how, but there's also a
L.A. Clippers Blake Griffin fan at work). And I responded, eventually getting the haters to back down. But there's only so much time to talk at the beginning of the day — sometimes it's easier to just direct people to some reading about the issue that they can absorb on their own time rather than argue in polite company (I prefer the latter, but that's just me).
I'm sure I'm not the only one forced by financial necessity to put up with Warriors haters. The Warriors are now villains and we, as Warriors fans, will have to get used to defending them.
So here's a quick guide to help you navigate discussions with people seeking to tear down the NBA's latest superteam, organized by the questions you might hear (and that I have heard) and starting with my favorite question.
1. "So what do you think about Kevin Durant?"
Answer: This is like a dream come true, or maybe Joe Lacob and Bob Myers' dream come true (Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News).
So yeah, I think it's a pretty good deal (Ben Goliver, SI).
2. "Yeah, yeah. I knew you'd say that. But can all those guys even play together?"
Answer: Well, the better question is probably how will anyone can defend them.
[Grab drawing materials, if necessary]
Imagine the possibilities with Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson sharing the floor — the spacing will be unbelievable no matter who's bringing the ball up court.
If you don't want your head to explode, just literally plug Durant into Harrison Barnes' old spot in the Warriors' offense — you'd be surprised at how well OKC's offense might have prepared Durant for what the Warriors do (see Exhibit A: Coach Nick of BBallBreakdown).
I mean, Durant can actually dribble — that alone is a huge step up for that role in the offense. So then you have to imagine what Durant could do in place of Green in the pick-and-roll sets with Curry that were so lethal this year. Or they could have Green screening for Durant. Or they could have Shaun Livingston run point with Curry, Durant and Thompson just chillin' around the arc? (Adam Mares, VICE Sports)
And with this team normally being derided as nothing but a "jump shooting team", all that spacing will give Durant the opportunity to assert himself more as a slasher who the defense won't be able to collapse on without leaving a shooter open (Kevin Jones, KNBR).
How do you even begin to plan for all those scenarios?
So Dubs new version of the Death Lineup projects like this: Curry (+8.0), Klay (+2.9), Andre (+2.1), Durant (+7.1), Draymond (+7.1). LOL— Kevin (@NBAcouchside) July 6, 2016
Then there's the defensive end. Durant showed in the playoffs this past year that he can be a dominant defender when he puts his mind to it — given that he won't be needing to carry as much of the load on offense, it's conceivable that he could put even more energy into defense and a locked in Durant, Green and Iguodala on the same floor would is about as elite as all those offensive options we just ran through (James Herbert, CBS Sports).
So yeah, I'm not too worried about them playing together.
3. "That sounds nice, but did you see Durant take all those shots in OKC? He's selfish!"
Answer: He did take a ton of shots, but he often did that because OKC's offense was so stagnant and he had to settle for absurdly difficult shots (that he made at an absurd rate). You think he couldn't buy into an offense that will get him more uncontested shots if he commits to sharing the ball and expecting to get it back?
You have to believe Durant is making this move because he's watched the film, tried to defend this team (and did so quite well, honestly) and sees a place for himself with this system where he can actually win since he's not getting any younger (Vincent Goodwill, CSN Chicago; et al.)
3. "Well, those are good points, but I just think that those superstar personalities will clash eventually."
Answer: I mean, yeah, that makes sense in a normal context. And I understand that the report that Curry would be in the front row clapping for Durant if he won MVP seems like a whole lot of hot air that you'd expect in a recruiting pitch (Marc J. Spears, The Undefeated).
And maybe you're the type of
obtuse person that dismisses all the talk about the chemistry and intangibles that makes this Warriors team great and an attractive destination for Durant (Erik Malinowski, Sports On Earth).
But if you just want a more concrete reason that they'll be able to figure it out, try this: Curry and Iguodala hung out with Durant during their time together at the 2010 World Championships, including attending chapel together. We don't have to get into a debate about personal spiritual beliefs, but it's clear that a bond developed at that time based on past reports (Monte Poole, CSN Bay Area).
4. "We'll see how all that works out once it's crunch time and someone has to defer."
Answer: I come right back to how difficult this team will be to guard when they have five guys on the court moving the ball — someone will get a wide open shot.
Beyond that, even if they do just turn to hero ball, once you get to the playoffs those simple iso plays can often be effective. How could anyone object to passing the ball to Durant and getting out of his way? (Zach Lowe, ESPN)
5. "Whatever, I just think Durant is weak for coming to Golden State. I just don't like this."
Answer: I know a lot of people are saying that, but — and don't take this the wrong way, distinguished colleague — but Zach Lowe wrote that the attacks on Durant "will mostly be stupid" and I can't say I disagree.
Calling him weak ignores the fact that you and I both know he knew exactly what kind of criticism he'd receive by making this decision — he's forging his own path and that's quite admirable (Michael Lee, The Vertical).
As Aliko Carter of Forbes wrote perfectly, "What is not weak, however, is exercising one's collectively bargained ability to choose where to play."
What is "weak" is people blaming Durant (or the Warriors) for acting in their own best interest (Howard Beck, Bleacher Report).
What is "weak" is people who for some reason "...can't stand that maybe the best general managers are now the young black stars taking full ownership of their own legacies." (Dave Zirin, The Nation).
What is "weak" is seeing some angry Oklahomans simulate an execution of Durant (Shaun King, New York Daily News).
Nobody is trying to take away Oklahomans' right to feel bad about this, but there's also no need for sports talk to be so vitriolic just because we get attached to the athletes (who, by the way, we don't know personally). We can probably all be better about how we talk about sports figures. (Freelantz Sports Media).
There's no need to make this about a player's character — enjoy the games, critique what you see, and leave it there.
Whoa...chill out man...it wasn't even that serious.
...yeah, my bad. I've been hanging out at this Warriors blog at SB Nation lately — wait, have you heard of...
For more on the Warriors ventures in free agency, check out our Kevin Durant storystream.