When Kevin Durant joined the Warriors, there was a collective feeling of “Now we’ll get to see Kevin Durant in a real system.” This came despite the fact that the Thunder consistently won more than 50 games, made the Western Conference Finals four times, each time Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant did not suffer major injuries, and the fact Durant won MVP in OKC. The idea was that the ball movement the Warriors offer would unlock something.
Clearly, Durant feels the same, as he told reporters this week that being in Golden State has taught him how little he knows about the game and how much better it can be.
“There’s a lot I need to learn about the game of basketball,” Durant told reporters this week. “I’m not as smart as I thought I was about the game. It’s played a different way here then I was used to playing.”
But Durant made it clear that he wasn’t knocking his former team by making his admission.
“It’s not a knock on Oklahoma City,” Durant said. “It’s not a knock on my past teammates or that organization. … I mean it’s different here. It’s fun here. It’s fun playing where I was before but that book is closed.”
OK, hold on. In what way can this possibly be conceived as anything but a knock on Oklahoma City? He’s basically acting like the Thunder were playing in the dirt, throwing rocks at one another and the Warriors are living in some sort of advanced state of being. There is absolutely no way it isn’t a knock on OKC and its coaches.
Kevin Durant is having fun with the Warriors, and learning a lot. USATSI
Both Scott Brooks and Billy Donovan figured out how to balance between Westbrook and Durant, and often times those isolation situations where the ball died were the result of individual choices by Westbrook and Durant, and if Durant didn’t know that until he got to Golden State, you wonder what they put in the water to create that kind of spontaneous self-awareness.
But if nothing else, it’s a good sign Durant is so happy in Golden State. No matter the context, he’s feeling unlocked, that his game can hit a new level. In doing so, he’ll likely reap the benefits that come with it, including better individual accolades and the championship he so desperately craves in a big-city market like the Bay Area. But if Durant’s hoping the Thunder won’t take that personally, after the way he left (texting teammates instead of speaking with them directly), well, he shouldn’t hold his breath for their Christmas cards to arrive at his door.