Kevin Durant jumps West to join Warriors
About 9 a.m. Monday morning, The Players’ Tribune tweeted the link to an article with the “Deputy Publisher” listed as Durant, the now former-Oklahoma City Thunder forward. In the 351-word declaration, the four-time scoring champion and 2013-14 NBA MVP announced he would be joining the team that just eliminated him from the playoffs in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
The 27-year-old Durant wrote that, among other factors, the decision was based heavily on his “evolution as a man”:
“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player … With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”
The 6-foot-11 hyper-athletic wing was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics — a franchise that moved to Oklahoma City prior to the 2008-09 season.
In his nine seasons in the association, “Durantula” has garnered seven All-Star game selections (in each of the past seven seasons), while leading the league in both minutes and field goals three times. Proof of a talent the Warriors had been lacking, the Washington D.C. product has also led the league in free throws made five times.
As part of his notable offensive success, Durant has shown to be an assassin when the game is on the line.
His 15 shots made in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime in games decided by five points or less were tied with LeBron James for the season-high in 2016, according to NBA Miner. his 38 attempted (.395) in the same situation was also a league-leading mark.
The five-time All-NBA First Teamer said, in his written statement, that he will miss his teammates along with the fans and community:
“It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.”
With every positive comes a negative — in every addition, there is a subtraction.
In order to fit Durant’s two-year $54 million contract under the cap, the Warriors were forced to choose between one of their expiring $11 million veterans. Being that 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala was part of the Warriors contingent who met with Durant last week, All-NBA Defensive Second Team center Andrew Bogut became the odd man out.
One guy who could potentially best fill the team’s needs, however, is Roy Hibbert. The 7-foot-2 center was once among the league’s most dominant rebounders and paint defenders, but the recent swing in favor of small lineups has made him far less valuable.
Given the Warriors’ affinity to use their own small-ball — or “Death” — lineup for large minutes, their requirements for a big man will fall to a need of rebounding and shot contesting — like Hibbert’s — for short stretches.
Whomever the team signs to fill the role, though, it won’t be his minutes that captivate crowds and charge the Dubs to another run at the title. That will most definitely fall on the high shoulders of Durant, and his proven-capable new teammates — a quartet of All-Stars.
Forget the days of “The Big Three,” the Warriors are set to unveil their “Big Four.”