After a record- breaking 73-9 regular season complete with back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors added to their repertoire by adding superstar Kevin Durant this offseason.
With the new NBA TV deal sinking in this offseason, many teams were able to cash in, literally and figuratively, and the Warriors were the main benefactors.
We’re talking about a team that offensively dominated the NBA last season with mind-numbing stats that propelled them to those 73 wins. Now, they add, in my opinion, the best scorer in the NBA and one of the greatest offensive players of all time, to their already stacked roster.
How could this possibly work though?
It starts with a team’s culture.
The Golden State Warriors as a franchise have developed one of the best cultures in the NBA. What I mean by this is that their chemistry, attitudes, philosophies, and mental make-up from the owner to the last player on their bench, all consist of actions that are geared towards one goal: to win championships. This stems from the fact that the Warriors’ core players (besides Durant) have come internally from their past NBA Draft’s and have gone through years of hardship and disappointment together. Stephen Curry (2009), Klay Thompson (2011) and Draymond Green (2012) have all been drafted by the Warriors and have been the main pieces in the team’s turnaround from mediocrity for many years to legit title contenders every year.
Through these core pieces, the team continued to show improvement by making the playoffs, then the conference finals and ultimately reaching the pinnacle two seasons ago when they won the 2015 NBA Finals. If I had to compare them to any other sports franchise, it would be the Kansas City Royals, who also endured many years of loss, but through homegrown, drafted players as their core, reached the mountaintop last postseason by winning the World Series title.
Now, with Durant entering the fold, the culture, more than ever, will have to show it’s face because sacrifices will need to be made. The good thing for the Warriors is that Durant seems to be willing to make those sacrifices:
“It’s new, fresh and I’m looking forward to it,” Durant said, “I just got super excited as I was walking in here. Just to play here and play for this great organization and play with these players, I’m excited.”
These sacrifices will be hard to come by though. As much of a positive as it is to have a team full of scorers and offensive playmakers, it can also be a negative because the shots have to go around at a rate that will keep everyone happy.
Last season, Curry averaged 20.2 shot attempts per game (2nd in NBA), Durant averaged 19.2 (5th in NBA) and Klay Thompson averaged 17.3 (14th in NBA). Overall, you have a team with 3 players who are in the top 15 in shot attempts per game across the entire league. Something has to give here.
The key: Draymond Green.
With the addition of Durant, Green becomes easily one of the top two most important players in the NBA besides LeBron James. Green is the Warriors best playmaker and at the power forward spot, can play many roles for the team on both sides of the floor. His ability to facilitate and continue to be a force on defense will be the key indicator of whether this Durant experiment will work or not.
Last season, Green averaged 14 points per game along with 9.5 rebounds, but most importantly, he averaged 7.4 assists per game. In order for this to work, Green’s points need to go down, which means he will have to shoot even less than his average 10.1 times per game so that Thompson, Curry and Durant can continue to get their shots up.
Fortunately for the Warriors, I believe that Green is the ideal player to be able to make this sacrifice which will allow Durant’s arrival to Golden State to be well… Golden.
Culture and sacrifice: Two words the Warriors will have to live by this season in order to usher in the Durant era with an NBA title.
Do you think the addition of Kevin Durant will bring another championship to Golden State? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3