When Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder at the end of the 2015 season, many figured he was doing so to ring chase. There’s a strong possibility that may be true but now, with the injury to Stephen Curry, Durant will have to put his big-boy shorts on. According to Bleacher Report, Curry will not make it back in time for the first round of the playoffs for the Warriors. What that means is trouble could be brewing for the Warriors’ chances at a possible fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals.
However, if Durant can prove that he came to Golden State to win and not ride the Warriors’ success, it won’t matter if Curry is on the floor or not.
Who the Warriors will play in the first round is not known, but facing any team in the Western Conference without Curry in a seven-game series is not ideal. While the Warriors can still throw Klay Thompson and Draymond Green into the trenches with Durant, each player will have to be better than they’ve been this season. Thompson will have to rely on the same defensive approach he used against the Cavaliers in the last Finals while still being the primary perimeter threat. Green will have to score and facilitate more, and Durant will have to put everyone on his back.
While in OKC, this is something he has done before, but he’s not been asked to do this for the Warriors in the playoffs. This is where he failed miserably over the course of his career. During his career in the playoffs, Durant averaged 28.8 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the floor. He can do it but for how long?
Any player who makes $25 million per season will have that stigma of being a leader attached to his wallet and name. But for Durant, his two seasons with the Warriors has been as a sidekick to Curry. Now, Steve Kerr will look for him to be something he wasn’t in Oklahoma City. Despite his MVP while with the Thunder, he failed to lead them to an NBA title. The one time the Thunder did make it, Durant was flanked by Russell Westbrook and James Harden. He’s never been that guy. A great scorer he is, but a winner, well, that’s something that remains to be seen. Durant has to remember that the Warriors are champs without him, not the other way around. His job now is to make Warriors’ fans respect him, not just cheer for him.
Winning a title with three other All-Stars is good, but the critics and fans were waiting for this moment. Truth be told, Durant probably has as well.