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Stephen Curry’s absence forces Kevin Durant to take the reins of the offense

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Stephen Curry has always been the engine that drives the Warriors’ offense. Can the Warriors mold themselves around Kevin Durant in his absence?

Golden State Warriors v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Who is better: Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant? It’s a tough question with no convincing answer. Durant might be a significantly better defender, but he doesn’t open up the offense with his gravity like Curry does. The debate is truly endless.

But one distinction is clear: Stephen Curry is much more important to the Warriors’ identity and success than Kevin Durant. Over the past few years, the team’s net rating is much higher when Curry is on the floor. In fact, when Curry is off the floor, the Warriors aren’t much better than an average team.

Meanwhile, the Warriors proved that they could win 67 games without Kevin Durant in 2015, and went on their longest winning streak of the 2016 season with Durant injured. He’s been a superstar, but there’s still some more work to be done in unleashing his full potential. Interestingly, Curry still does his best work without Durant on the floor.

With Stephen Curry’s injury, the offensive load will largely fall on the shoulders of Kevin Durant. As one of the greatest scorers in NBA history, he won’t have any problem increasing his own scoring output. But can he involve others in the offense?

Durant is a sneaky-good passer, averaging 5.3 assists per game this year. But sometimes, he can develop a little bit of tunnel vision, and the ball movement can get stagnant. It’s an old habit from his Oklahoma City days, and he’s still working to become the facilitator he can be.

In the two games Curry’s been out, Durant recorded ten and seven assists. Continuing this play-making would really help the Warriors long-term: the Warriors could put Kevin Durant entirely in charge of the second unit to make things happen offensively.

If Kevin Durant can consistently make the Warriors offense perform at a high level without Curry, he might be the better overall player. Regardless of the answer to this dumb parlor game, a more complete Durant will make the Warriors a scarier, more consistent team.