Kevin Durant‘s controversial decision to join the Golden State Warriors in 2016 was heavily criticized. Analysts such as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith called it the “weakest move made by a superstar” in NBA history. But in the minds of many of Durant’s critics, it wasn’t just his decision to join the Warriors that rubbed them the wrong way but how he did it.
For those who may be tardy to the party, just weeks before his decision, Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder squad led the Western Conference Finals 3-1 against the same Warriors team before losing three games straight.
Many people thought Durant was living by the mantra, “if you can’t beat them, join them”. However, Warriors star Draymond Green believes Durant’s decision to join Golden State was made far before the 2016 Western Conference Finals.
“Everybody’s running pick and roll and taking advantage of mismatches because that was the cycle that the NBA was in. We then changed the game of basketball and how basketball was played,” Green said on the “Checc’n In” Podcast with Big U on September 15.
“KD saw that. KD wanted to play that brand of basketball. KD wanted to play with us … In my heart, believe before it ever came to them being up 3-1. KD wanted to come to the Warriors.”
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Draymond: KD Wanted To Play ‘Good Basketball’
When Durant joined the Warriors in 2016, it shook up the entire NBA landscape. Golden State had established itself as a force in the NBA, making back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals. But after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals that June, it was clear a link was missing from the Warriors roster
On the flip side for Durant, blowing a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals was just the latest playoff disappointment during his time in Oklahoma City. The Thunder had the talent, but not necessarily the right system to fit his skillset. The Warriors had both, which in Green’s mind, made the decision easy for the 12-time All-Star.
“KD wanted to play good basketball. You saw the type of basketball we was playing, guys moving the ball. It’s Steph hot. Everybody running screens for Steph. Everybody trying to get Steph the ball; we having fun,” Green added.
“He wanted to play good basketball. We were playing the best brand of basketball. The brand of basketball that we play, pass, move. No one in the NBA was playing that brand of basketball except for the San Antonio Spurs.”
Nets Have Pieces To Duplicate Dubs System
Despite Durant departing the franchise to join the Nets in 2019, the Warriors were able to get back to the mountaintop and win the NBA title in 2022. Now all eyes will be on Durant to see if he can answer with an additional title of his own, this time outside of the Warriors’ system.
Golden State is a dynasty whose system would be nearly impossible to duplicate. However, the Nets have put the right pieces around Durant that could help head coach Steve Nash copycat the system that has led to so much success for the Warriors.
Much like KD and Steph, the Nets have a superstar tandem in Durant and Kyrie Irving. They also have a myriad of shooters in Seth Curry and Joe Harris, who can play the Klay Thompson role.
In addition, Ben Simmons could be a super boosted version of Draymond with his elite defending and playmaking ability. He may be able to take it to an even higher level because he possesses athleticism that Green simply does not.
The time for talking is almost over as the Nets are preparing to enter training camp. For their sake, they’ll need to deliver in a big way this season.