Western Conference

Has the Western Conference opened up?

Even with Kevin Durant out the Western Conference is an open and shut case.

The super talented wing man suffered an unlucky knee injury after a collision with  Zaza Pachulia. Luckily the injury does not look as bad as originally indicated. Durant ended up suffering a grade 2 MCL sprain and will be re-evaluated in four weeks. He will likely be back in time for the upcoming NBA playoffs. However, if Kevin Durant is not 100% or even if he does not play, are the Golden State Warriors still locked in to win the West?

Yes.

A lot of hot takes have appeared in favor of the Houston Rockets or San Antonio Spurs being either favorites or in better shape to win the West. Apparently many have forgotten how the Golden State Warriors performed prior to  Kevin Durant’s arrival.

Granted, many key players from last year’s Golden State roster are now in various parts of the NBA. Andrew Bogut, Mo Speights, Harrison Barnes, and Leandro Barbosa are now with new teams after last year’s infamous 3-1 choke event in the NBA Finals. The Warriors have been and still continue to be a question mark in the post and minus the borderline 7-foot stature of Kevin Durant their interior presence is sure to suffer even more. However, interior presence during both Finals runs was not the Warriors’ strong suit and this year we should see more of the same during what is guaranteed to be another deep playoff run.

Draymond Green has been somewhat of a forgotten man this year as Kevin Durant has pursued the best statistical season of his career (53% from the field). Green often looked like a superstar last year and could have been considered as the most important player on the team because of his various skills. He can contribute all over the box score and plays some of the best defense in the league as well. You can bet your next paycheck that Draymond will be more than ready to step up and return to All-Star status following Kevin Durant’s injury. The “next man up” cliche has never been in more capable hands than it is at this very moment. This is without even mentioning the reigning MVP.

Kevin Durant

Jul 7, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Kevin Durant poses for a photo with his jersey during a press conference after signing with the Golden State Warriors at the Warriors Practice Facility. (Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Stephen Curry has spent much of the season casually gliding and running the show as the point guard for the defending Western Conference champions. Some have questioned his ability to return to the same form as last year when he electrified the NBA and locked himself in as one of the best shooters the world has ever seen. With more shots sure to be coming his way, there’s no reason why he can’t show us the same form. The Golden State Warriors will repeat as Western Conference champions with their superior (still) roster and fluent three-point shooting.

The addition of Kevin Durant has watered down the aesthetics of just how potent and talented the entire Warriors roster can be. The San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets still remain the second tier of the Western Conference. The stars of both teams still do not stack up to Steph, Klay, and Dray.

Life without Kevin Durant will certainly be a test and strain on the Golden State Warriors. However, they have plenty of talent and ability to make up for the loss and remain my heavy favorite to come out of the West. Though I wish him a speedy recovery, Kevin Durant is just the icing on the cake.

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