Kevin Durant Conundrum: How Valuable is he to the Warriors?

One figure hangs over the heads of the Golden State Warriors…5-0. That is their record this playoff without Kevin Durant.

Naturally, the question being asked about the Warriors is whether or not they are a better team without an undoubted top 5 player in the league. Asking that question on the surface sounds laughable. It is a question that in most scenarios should NEVER be asked. How does it make sense questioning Durant’s value to a team?

Of course with questions being asked, Durant is going ham on Twitter calling out the talking heads and keeps proving he is mentally weak when it comes to criticism. There’s my proverbial shot at him for being a burner Twitter account having, weak minded, entitled little pansy. Now that I got that out of the way…

You would think the Warriors are indeed a better team with someone like Durant. However, the numbers say otherwise.

Since the day they signed Durant, I have said he is the least valuable player of the big 4 on THAT team. At best, he’s the third most valuable to the team behind the obvious choice of Stephen Curry. The other I would argue is Draymond Green because he is the centerpiece on defense and he brings grit to the offensive side from running the floor to doing the little things such as screens, offensive boards and cleaning up the paint.

Since Durant’s injury sidelined him, the Warriors have looked as dominant as ever. They are 5-0 and the team looks more fluid on the offensive end than they did prior to the injury.

They are moving around, setting screens, passing more and trying to open up shots for themselves by playing fundamental team basketball. As a result, Klay Thompson has found his stroke again. It feels like Draymond Green is stuffing the stat sheet more than he ever has. He is playing like he is from Mount Moron right now. If you don’t understand that reference, you’re dead to me.

Playing better and winning more games with out Durant isn’t something new that just happened the past 5 games. This isn’t something that has transpired overnight. This has been the case since signing Durant.

Warriors Net Ratings Since Durant Signing

  • Steph/KD On Court: +15.6
  • Steph On/KD Off Court: +12.5
  • KD On/Steph Off Court: +3.2
  • Both Off Court: -3.7

Warriors Win/Loss (82 Game Pace) Since Durant Signing

  • Steph/KD Both Play: 163-46 (64-18)
  • Neither Play: 1-6 (12-70)
  • Steph w/o KD: 33-4 (73-9)
  • KD w/o Steph: 28-18 (50-32)

All the numbers back up the claim that the Warriors are a better team with Curry and no Durant in terms of wins. As for net ratings, they benefit from both, however, the numbers show that the Warriors are infinitely more valuable with Curry v Durant.

It all sounds bad and looks bad for Durant. It just isn’t that clear cut and dry. But, we are talking about the best TEAM in the NBA before Durant got there. The 3 major core pieces were all drafted by the Warriors and developed together. Durant comes and they become even more dominant from a standpoint of not knowing who to guard. Durant has slowed the pace and allowed the Warriors to take possessions off because they can.

Final Thoughts

This doesn’t mean Durant is not a top 3 player because he is. Despite my personal thoughts on him from a mental standpoint, you want him on your team, period. However, this is a unique situation where talent doesn’t help a team that already has loads of it. The wealth is spread too thin. Durant’s style of play operating from 15 feet out and nailing jumpers more often than not hurts the flow. Ultimately that takes away from what has made the Warriors great, running and gunning and shooting the 3-ball. As a result, guys like Klay and Draymond do not have the same production value. It is not exactly their fault. 

Am I saying to not sign Durant if you can keep him? Not necessarily. What will you lose though? Is it Klay? Is it Draymond? You have to look at the risk/reward factor. Are you willing to sacrifice one of three guys who have been part of the core since day 1?

If you lose Draymond, you lose your defensive centerpiece and a guy who is willing to be a Dennis Rodman type player who just does all the dirty work. If you lose Klay, you lose arguably the best 2-way guard in the league, your best perimeter defender and a marksman from outside.

The biggest benefit to the Warriors retaining Durant is you make your team a little less great, but still great nonetheless and still pretty much unbeatable in a series. The reason why is because you keep Durant off the other 29 teams in the league. By doing so, that means you can pretty much punch your ticket to the final assuming you don’t shit the bed.

That is THE single biggest benefit to the Warriors having KD, you don’t have to play against him and a couple of other stars year after year.

What would have been interesting to see is the rivalry that would have developed between the Thunder and Warriors had he stayed put. I think we are having a much different conversation than we are right now about all parties involved. I do believe the Thunder eventually win the title and give the Warriors trouble every year, at least more than any other team.

KD and Russ v Steph, Klay and Draymond could have been an absolute goldmine of a rivalry.

 

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