Yesterday, Kevin Durant decided he was going to join the Golden State Warriors. The move has been criticized ad nauseum by fans, writers and even current players, which KD anticipated, as evidenced by his announcement letter on The Player’s Tribune.
Durant did not point to any specific instances during his tenure with Oklahoma City that may have led to his departure, but it’s easy to deduct some of them. Being up 3-1 against the Warriors and ultimately losing. The fact that despite boasting two of the league’s top 5 players, the Thunder have been to the Finals just once (where they were ousted in 5 games by a then-ringless LeBron James). Also the fact that despite the coaching change, the Thunder’s offense stalled in key moments, specifically, in the waning moments of Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, which was their best opportunity to close out Golden State.
Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, the same guy that brought you the immaculate “Brotherhood” piece that provided the most insightful look into the enigmatic LeBron/Melo/CP3/Wade friendship sports writing has ever seen, dug into the matter, and came up with this quote from a “person with insight into Durant’s thought process.”
Ultimately, he got frustrated and felt that they had plateaued. [Donovan] came in, and he still had the same issues that he had with Russ under Scotty. The offense didn’t change much. He still had to take a ton of contested shots every game; and that’s when he had the ball at all.
Quotes like that are an organization’s worse nightmare. It’s one thing for Durant to have left because he knows Golden State gives him a better chance at a ring (which they do). It’s another thing for his former superstar teammate to be one of the catalysts for his departure.
It’s no secret that Durant and Westbrook have had late game issues with who gets the ball and when, but the question should be posed, how does that change in Golden State? The best shooter the league has ever seen plays the point guard position for them, and we all know he wants the ball with the game on the line.
The 2016-2017 season can’t come soon enough.