When Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors as a free agent prior to the 2016-17 season, everyone expected the Dubs to win multiple championships.
Golden State won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018, and sure would have made it a 3-peat if Durant doesn’t tear his achilles during Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
Durant won two Finals MVPs, and was undoubtedly the best player on those championship winning teams. But, did it prove his greatness?
ESPN’s Max Kellerman talked about Durant during Wednesday’s episode of First Take, and had this to say (h/t Drew Shiller of NBC Bay Area):
“As I’ve said — when he joined the Warriors, it didn’t prove anything about his greatness. Any superstar player that joins the Warriors would surely win multiple championships. They had already won 73 games and barely didn’t win the championship in LeBron James’ finest moment as a basketball player. You add Paul George — you add a lot of guys to that team — of course they’re gonna win. So that doesn’t really prove the thing that a championship is supposed to prove about the best player on a championship team. Now he has the chance to prove it.”
The Warriors were coming off a championship in 2015, followed up by a 73-win season that saw the Dubs get upset by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals, so they were a title contender with, or without Durant.
When he joined the team, it turned the Warriors into a juggernaut.
Durant hit several big shots in the playoffs, and although there were questions about how he felt off the court, the on-court chemistry was undeniable.
The 2016 NBA free agency class didn’t have any superstars in their prime other than Durant and LeBron James, who re-signed in Cleveland. Dirk Nowitzki was way past his prime at that point, so the Dubs weren’t making a run at him with their cap space.
Would another superstar helped the Dubs to back-to-back championships?
Lets say general manager Bob Myers found a way to land George from the Indiana Pacers, adding him to the trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, do the Warriors win two championships?
I think they definitely would have. Golden State was very deep, and Curry had already proven he can be the lead-dog on a title-winning squad.
I am not trying to diminish how great of a player Durant is, but with the talent level on those teams, it is hard to see them losing a seven-game series to anyone if you substitute George, or any other star-level player, for Durant.
Do you agree with Kellerman that the Warriors would have still won with a player similar to George instead of KD?
On to some more links:
What if the Warriors would have listened to Dell Curry, and passed up on Steph so the New York Knicks could take him at the 2009 NBA Draft? The New York Post’s Steve Berman caught up with Curry’s college and discussed what Steph could have done for the sorry Knicks franchise.
Speaking of Curry, his passion for golf rubbed off on a soccer superstar. Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale credits Steph for getting him onto the links. (International Business Times)
It looks like the Warriors are finished their 2019-20 season, which means it’s time to focus on the NBA Draft. Jason McIntyre of Fox Sports released his latest mock draft, and has the Dubs taking a big man with the No. 1 pick.