Kevin Durant is a special, special player. We’ve never before seen his combination of size, grace, natural shooting touch, and scoring prowess. It’s truly unprecedented. The man is legitimately 7’ tall, with a wingspan of 7’5”, and yet he can sprint the court with the grace of a gliding viper sliding through the brush of his opponents.
Naturally, we knew all of this already. Dude has been in the league for quite a while. He’s won an MVP, he’s won a few scoring titles. He made an NBA Finals alongside a young core of Russell Westbrook and James Harden (before the Basketball Gods slithered down and whispered angry nothings in Clay Bennett’s ear, convincing him to trade away Harden as sick retribution for the absolute heist of the Sonics from Seattle).
Durant has long been a basketball anomaly, an on-court nightmare for opposing players. But, witnessing him in these NBA Finals has really opened my eyes to a very simple fact: Stephen Curry is so much better for Durant than Russell Westbrook. It’s not even close.
That’s just disgusting. Watch Durant’s slumped shoulders, sunken spirit, and disbelief at what he’s witnessing as Westbrook unnecessarily dances around (with no end-game in mind) before hoisting up a deep, contested three (air ball) against Michael Carter-Williams.
For years, the narrative became less about how great Durant and Westbrook were together, and more about how Westbrook was hurting his team (and specifically Durant) by looking him off in big moments, or by not committing to sharing the ball in any meaningful way.
I mean, you have the league’s best scorer on your team, and that’s the shot you settle for, when he’s standing alone at the top of the arc?!
Look at the movement! Look at the speed! It looks like a different sport, and this was from seven months ago, before the Warriors even figured out how to play with one another.
Now? Things look dire for the rest of the league. The Warriors are cutting apart the fabric of the NBA one unexpected screen at a time. So far in these Finals, Durant has put up historic numbers.
I’m not kidding, look:
I mean, look at that line: 33 points on 22 shots for KD, 5 blocks, 3 steals, monster rebounding. Help D was incredible all game. Masterpiece— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 5, 2017
As good as we thought Durant already was, in the context of this free flowing, high scoring offense, he looks even better than ever before at any other point of his career.
So, we must ask ourselves, what’s the main difference here?
Is it the offensive philosophy? Can we safely attribute this mastery to Steve Kerr? As much as I stan harder for Kerr than any other American currently alive, I have to say ... nope. It’s not Steve Kerr.
Is it playing alongside Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, who both regularly take on incredible defensive and offensive assignments? I mean, of course that’s part of it. All of these things are intertwined as deeply as a Chinese finger trap with my fingers trapped inside of it.
But, beyond all those things, I really do think that Curry has unlocked Durant’s genius.
They bounce off each other like a harmonious cacophony of instruments playing full volume. Their play, especially as of late, has been otherworldly. I mean, hey now, Curry is averaging 30 points and 10.5 assists on 46.2 percent shooting through the first two games of the Finals, and I really don’t think he’ll even get close to being the series’ MVP because Durant has been that good.
But, again, that’s the point. Curry has been AMAZING, but you never get the feeling that he resents the fact that Durant (assuming the Warriors win the series) will most likely win the MVP. Could you ever see Westbrook being even halfway okay with that?!
Westbrook would be pouting up and down the court. Or, most likely, he would just hog the ball, ensuring that Durant never touched it, just to get his precious triple double or whatever.
I’m so deeply not #TeamWestbrook at this point.
The guy somehow managed to lose a top-five NBA talent in Harden (no fault at all of his own, OKC’s front office committed the biggest, most shameful sports blunder in modern NBA history), and then basically drove away Durant so that he could take full control of the reigns of the OKC Thunder, average a triple double, and get rocked in the first round of playoffs. Good luck moving forward with that formula, Russ.
He’s home watching Sister Act 2 (or whatever nonsense) on his TV right now. Congrats.
Meanwhile in Oakland:
The Warriors shot 50-40-90....as a team. pic.twitter.com/wLqavXdCK2— justin (@WeNotSocks) June 5, 2017
As a basketball fan, I’m so, so grateful Durant is playing alongside Stephen Curry. Otherwise, we’d never have seen this level of play from him. It would have been squashed out in the unforgiving Oklahoma plains — hidden from view by a controlling, ball hungry point guard with an unnatural love of bad 90’s sequels.