The puzzle pieces for why Kevin Durant spurned the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign with the Golden State Warriors are slowly coming into place.
Add frustrations with fiery teammate Russell Westbrook and the evolution of the Thunder offense to the growing list.
“Ultimately, he got frustrated and felt that they had plateaued,” a source told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. “[Billy Donovan] came in, and he still had the same issues that he had with Russ under Scotty [Brooks]. 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.”
Things should be different for Durant in the Bay Area.
The Warriors share the basketball as well as any team in the NBA, with the shooting and unselfishness of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson perfectly complementing the playmaking nature of Draymond Green. There is very little “hero ball” in Golden State, where Steve Kerr’s dedication to passing and off-the-ball movement help create open shots for all five players on the floor.
The volume of shots may trend downward for Durant, but the quality of his looks should skyrocket. With Curry and Thompson deadly accurate from 30 feet out and Green capable of driving to the basket from any angle and finding an open teammate, there’s no defense in the NBA capable of keeping Durant from getting a plethora of open shots every night.
A Curry-Durant pick-and-roll is nothing short of nightmare material.
And the four-time scoring champion will likely never have to worry about getting his hands on the basketball.
“He’s never going to have a game in Golden State where Steve Kerr has to say at halftime, ‘You guys need to get Kevin the ball,’ which happened in OKC,” the source told Beck.
Westbrook might be one of the most physically talented and hardest-working players in the game, but his sometimes reckless and uncharitable style clearly wore on Durant, the 2014 NBA MVP. It might not be the signature reason why he left, but the inconsistent relationship with Westbrook on the court almost certainly played some part in the decision.
Add in the title credentials of the already star-studded Warriors and the opportunities to expand his personal brand in the Bay Area, and it suddenly becomes far easier to understand why Durant did what he did.