It's no secret that you need star players to win in the NBA, and Kevin Durant has been a remarkable player, regardless of who he's been surrounded by. After another MVP-caliber season in 2015-2016, it should be a no-brainer that any and every team in the league will do whatever it takes to recruit the soon-to-be free agent to their side, right?
Surprisingly, after Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Golden State Warriors were determined to recruit Durant, not everyone thought it would be a good move.
The apprehension came from few different angles. Warrior legend Rick Barry commented that it would only be a good fit "if he's (Durant) willing to take a subservient role, and not be the big guy ... he's not gonna be the same guy. He's not gonna be the focal point. Long time Bay Area sportswriter Bruce Jenkins was also unsure of it, saying they are "just fine as they are." Jenkins couldn't resist playing the chemistry card either:
"There’s a distinct rhythm to great basketball teams, and it is something to be cherished and preserved."
ESPN's Ethan Sherwood Strauss offered up a more quantifiable complaint about a potential Golden State Durant acquisition:
Strauss cuts to the core of what everyone else was dancing around with the being "the man" versus being "subservient" comments; who gets to take the most shots.
For the sake of argument, let's pretend that Durant refuses to take fewer shots as a condition of joining the Warriors. Assuming everyone's minutes per game hold steady next year for the sake of simplicity, we need to find 18.7 shots per game to give to Theoretical Greedy Durant to match his Thunder attempts from this season, and keep him happy. Even though Golden State has the best offense in the league this season, there's always room for improvement; we can find plenty of bad shots to send in hypothetical 2016-2017 Warrior Durant's direction:
We're already well over Greedy Durant's quota and could give a couple of shots back to Klay if he pouts. If that still doesn't seem realistic, there are bench guys like Leandro Barbosa that shoot a fair amount that we could take shots away from. Curry himself may want to welcome Durant and become more of a passer, but we'd advise against that strategy.
Remember, this is the worst case scenario. If Durant does agree to come west, he likely isn't as greedy as I'm assuming, and would be willing to sacrifice a few shots to keep his new teammates happy.
Even if we've established that there are enough shots to go around on the hypothetical Durant Super Friends 2016-2017 Warriors, what about all those bad fit and bad chemistry concerns, would he really disrupt the team? We think that "chemistry" is overthinking it, but Patrick and Dre do have some answers.
Unlike Rick Barry, Patrick thinks it's a good fit for the Warriors offense:
Durant is without question the only MVP-caliber player in the league who actually fits into their offensive systems. He won't take the ball out of Curry's hands, or "steal" any of his shots (he already thrives alongside Westbrook). He plays extremely well off the ball (doesn't need to be a primary ball handler to be effective), he fits perfectly when they go small ball, etc.
Dre doesn't buy the Strauss argument that Durant is all offense and no defense:
The 2013 Thunder were 4th in Defense, and lost in large part due to a Westbrook injury in the playoffs. They were 6th in defense in 2013!
I just don't buy these "defensive sieve" arguments!
Durant does just about everything better than average. He does have the "LeBron James" offensive rebound problem. Fun reason...he makes too many shots he doesn't generate enough offensive rebound chances! His rebounds and blocks are above average, his steals are slightly below average, but he fouls less too.
Durant is Dirk Nowitzki...if Dirk also rebounded and played D....
Finally, there's team depth. Again from Patrick:
On Durant, there are more reasons, the most important of which is robustness. For instance, what happens if Curry gets injured? In the current scenario, GSW goes from GOAT-caliber team to a good playoff team. Can't see them beating the Spurs without Curry.
If they had Durant, though? Well, they lost one MVP candidate, but still have another.
Don't overthink it too much; adding one of the best scorers of all time to an all time great team would be a nightmare for the rest of the league. Rick Barry said it best in the same interview where he doubted the move, hedging his bet:
"If he's willing to come and he's willing to do that, that would be unbelievable ... They got Steph. They got Klay. They got Draymond ... how do you guard that lineup?"