Change of Scenery: Was It The Right Move For Durant To Leave OKC?

Ian Beck

In the 2016-17 season, Russell Westbrook is going to be playing for free agency money. For years Kevin Durant has struggled to be the best player on the team; Westbrook did not give up the ball enough to his superstar counterpart and instead started to infringe on Durant’s success and leadership. Over his career Westbrook has averaged 7.6 APG, which is quite low considering how much he could have fed Durant, a top five scorer in basketball. Another reason why Westbrook’s free agency was bad for Durant is because of his unpredictability as he could easily leave next year to go to LA or another city. OKC has a good team, but they cannot offer the atmosphere and pedigree that the Lakers have. Westbrook would have only brought KD down.

Last year the Golden State Warriors went 73-9. That is the best regular season record ever. The Warriors were compared to the best basketball teams ever and were one game shy from winning the NBA Championship. There is no doubt that Durant upgraded to a better team that has a better chance of winning. He may have left a team that was up  3-1 in the Western Conference Finals against the team he joined, but Durant, coupled with Curry and Klay, will dominate the three-point line. The only team that will put up a fight against this team in the West is the San Antonio Spurs (who recently beat them). While the Warriors may start out slow like the big three in Miami and Boston did, they will soon start to click and learn how to play with each other. As soon as that happens, the sky is the limit. 

Having played with Russell Westbrook for so many years, Kevin Durant is used to taking a back seat to the other stars. Durant has never shown the elite, alpha male mentality of a player like Westbrook. He is actually well-known as a team player. And yet, Durant has a scoring mentality that goes unparalleled in the league. At 6’9, Durant towers over defenders, making him nearly impossible to guard. He is joining a team in California that continually passes until they get their wide-open shot. With an effective offensive system in place, Durant only has to play better  than Harrison Barnes, who proved to be a threat in the Finals. Durant was never on a true team before he got to Golden State, but now he joins a team that has been to back-to-back finals and is going to play with veterans who have rings. Durant is going to be surrounded by some of the top players in the league and the onus is on Durant to take advantage of that fact. There will undoubtedly be an adjustment period, but there also needs to be a steep learning curve as Durant alters his play to better coincide with what the GSW have going on.  

There is one drawback to Kevin Durant joining the Warriors: he has to win an NBA Championship THIS YEAR. This team is beyond stacked and, in my opinion, completely unfair to the rest of the league. He left a team in OKC that supported him and helped develop him into a superstar and then left them in almost as much criticism as LeBron James faced when he left Cleveland for the first time. This year will be tough since Durant is not used to criticism; he will undoubtedly face a lot this seaosn. That said, he has to step up his game and finally get a ring.