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Warrior Wonder: Durant changed plays late in win over Dallas so Steph Curry could get the ball

Curry and Kerr know how this works. Now it looks like Durant is embracing selflessness as Golden State’s default state of being.

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Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks

“I always have a feel for the game, and know I can feel the flow pretty easily.”

As Kevin Durant talked to the press after last night’s tight win over the surprisingly feisty Dallas Mavericks you could almost feel the fan base’s collective angst churning.

There’s been a growing murmur from the fan base - many who I would consider respected basketball minds - clamoring for Stephen Curry to get the ball more. A player of his caliber shouldn’t be playing off ball so much, they say.

Old Steph, meet new

But this is Steve Kerr’s Warriors offense - the one that famously freed to Curry to run off ball back in 2015. It’s no coincidence that that season coincides with the emergence of super saiyan Curry. And yet... paired with more talent than he’s ever been on the court with, suddenly it’s time to put the ball back in his hands more? Even though he has the second-highest usage rate of his career?

Last night, it worked. Durant deferred to Curry, and Curry rewarded the trust with his usual aplomb. Here’s the end result:

I learn my lessons slow

Maybe it’s because I’m going to see the Reverend Horton Heat in a couple weeks, but I’ve got this song playing through my head right now thinking about Durant. People are blaming Kerr for not putting the ball in Curry’s hands more, but I think Kerr has been building the architecture so that his teammates realize when to do so - without having any specific scheme that forces it.

Remember, Durant came here to play “Warriors ball,” an egalitarian system that prioritizes getting everyone involved, using ball movement rather than isolation. It’s a style that redefined the modern NBA as the Warriors kicked butts on their way to three championships in four seasons.

It hasn’t been without it’s wrinkles, but the system is working. Last night, Durant intentional deferred, without being asked. It’s not a huge deal for a player like Durant, who’s not afraid to pass the ball, but it’s the type of behavior that gets noticed up and down the roster. As Draymond Green said last night in the hallway after the game, “...to know you got a mismatch and you’re probably the best scorer in the world and you give the ball back ‘cause you see Steph got it going? That’s the type of plays that win championships.”

There are a lot of theories about how we learn. From young to old, everyone needs to understand that we are continuously learning and growing. It may not always be constant, or even seem like learning, but our experiences inform how we act, moving forward. As a parent, I want to teach my kids that sharing feels good, rather than force them to share and I think that is a good parallel for understanding what coach Kerr is working towards.

Here’s basketball mastermind, Anthony Slater breaking it down for The Athletic

This was in stark contrast to what went down 10 nights earlier. Remember that memorable overtime loss to the Rockets? During the final three minutes of regulation, Durant took seven of the Warriors’ final eight shots, many of them rushed, forced and contested, bricking six and delivering Houston a path to a win that shouldn’t have been possible. That night, Curry had 28 points midway through the fourth, but mostly floated around unused down the stretch.

You see, this isn’t the kind of team that demands the ball for any one player. Rather, it’s a team that is built on the idea of your team wanting each other to get the ball more. A weird dichotomy where selflessness and selfishness coexist in a harmonious shared space. And it’s unique in the basketball world. From David West to Kevin Durant, to Andre Iguodala, numerous players have talked about how Kerr and Curry run a culture here unlike anywhere else.

And that’s just wonderful.

Poll

Who was your Warrior Wonder against the Dallas Mavericks

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    Steph "2nd highest usage percentage of my career" Curry
    (268 votes)
  • 30%
    Kevin "sharing is caring" Durant
    (133 votes)
  • 7%
    Steve "warriors ball" Kerr
    (32 votes)
433 votes total Vote Now

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