With Stephen Curry likely out until the second round of the playoffs, the Warriors have to retool quite a bit of their gameplan. Their other three All-Stars—Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green—are more than enough to take an any non-Houston team in the West. But adjustments will be necessary.
Steph Curry is one of the few high-volume, high-efficiency scorers in the game. But maybe more importantly, almost every Warrior shoots better with Steph on the court: his gravity and playmaking gets his teammates comfortable shots. He’s the engine that makes the Warriors’ offense go.
Neither Draymond Green or Klay Thompson can reliably run an offense by themselves. Thompson is an amazing scorer, but he’s better when the ball isn’t in his hands. Draymond might be the best passer on the team, but he’s not somebody who can reliably create his own shot.
So it’s up to Kevin Durant to run the offense. We know he can score in a variety of ways: he’s one of the best isolation scorers and spot-up shooters in the league. He owns the mid-range area and is dangerous at the rim due to his length and athleticism.
But Durant still has room to grow as a creator for others. Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight points out that in recent games with Curry out, Durant heavily relied on isolation scoring. It slowed down the offense and made it less efficient.
Kevin Durant has quietly improved his passing this year, averaging a career high assists per 100 possessions. He’s also deadly in the pick and roll—among players with more than 100 possessions as the pick and roll ball handler, he ranks third in points per possession (Steph is first). And that’s probably the type of offense that would get KD efficient shots, provide opportunities for others to get involved in the offense, and increase the pace.
Chris Herring points out that the Kevin Durant-Draymond Green pick and roll combo is the second most efficient one in the league, right after the Stephen Curry-Kevin Durant pair. IT should be the Warriors’ bread-and-butter offense while Steph is out.
The Warriors can also mix in Andre Iguodala and Jordan Bell as screeners, and as long as Quinn Cook, Klay Thompson, and Nick Young can hit their threes, the team should have a dynamic, dangerous offense. And even when Stephen Curry comes back, having KD comfortable running an offense will be crucial when Curry sits, or in the worst case scenario, Curry is not his usual self.
The Warriors should be able to play elite defense once the playoffs come around. But offensively, they’ll need to give Durant the tools to succeed. Kevin Durant himself should think about when the best times to iso are, and how he can involve his teammates better. The Durant-Green pick and roll is the place to start.