This weekend we’ll see Kevin Durant begin his first postseason with the Golden State Warriors. Durant played 91 total playoff games as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He averages over 28 points and 8 rebounds per game in the playoffs.
Durant’s first season with the Warriors was exactly what he signed up for. Though cut a little short by the right knee sprain, this was arguably Durant’s best all-around regular season — definitely his most efficient.
Durant shot a career-best 53 percent from the field, along with career-highs in rebounds (8.3) and blocks (1.6) and a career-low in turnovers per game (2.2). He posted the best Offensive Rating of his career (124) and tied for his best Defensive Rating (101).
It didn’t take long for Durant to look the way we expected he would with the team that won 73 games last regular season. The transition was seamless. They reeled off an early 12-game win streak in November, averaging 120 points and 32 assists per game in that span. Durant averaged 25 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists on 55 percent shooting during that first big win streak with his new team.
But even when they hit 32-6 on the season, you could tell the Warriors were still figuring some things out. The balance of power between their two alphas in Durant and Stephen Curry naturally started to become a conversation at one point, but it never became a humming headline for sports talk shows. You can credit that to the culture in which Durant subscribed to when he decided to join the Warriors. They were winning, but they still wanted to do things better.
Nothing to see here. Just Draymond Green and Kevin Durant having a simple conversation….
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 7, 2017
Durant also signed up for a brand of accountability, which his new teammate Draymond Green has no problem dishing out. In a game against the Memphis Grizzlies in January, the Warriors were up by two points towards the end of regulation. Durant had Zach Randolph on him, so he drew the clock out and missed a go-ahead three-pointer at the top of the key. Green was visibly frustrated during the play, and he let Durant know about it after.
The Warriors lost that game in overtime and Green mentioned their “awful” fourth quarter offense after the game (via ESPN).
It was later explained that Green wanted to run some pick-and-roll action that had been working for them throughout the game. As talented as the Warriors are with two of the game’s best scorers, Green is the accountable glue who will always say something when things aren’t right. No matter how good Durant is, he’s often reminded that he’s part of something bigger than himself.
We witnessed all of the constructive reasons why Durant joined this team manifest during his first season. And while also successfully answering the call of needing to improve his presence on the defensive end, he’s thus far shown the brilliance of his decision.
This will be Durant’s seventh playoff appearance. While his last six are by no means to be dismissed or undone, his first postseason as a member of the Warriors feels like a fresh slate in the most promising and mature part of his career. If anything, Durant’s past experience in the postseason combined with his new surroundings might make him more dangerous than ever, with the most justifiable outcome, of course, being his first NBA championship.