Kevin Durant is one of the finest NBA players today. The 10x All-star has won every major accolade there is to win. In addition, he has won two championships in three seasons with the Golden State Warriors. In the finals, he’s a 2x Finals MVP which highlight his importance in the finals.
However, in the summer of 2016, Durant made one of the most controversial decisions in the NBA. After losing 3-4 to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, Durant chose to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency and join the Warriors.
The nature of that decision earned him the animosity of the Thunder fans and players.
Speaking about his departure, Durant explained why he left.
In OKC I played with a lot of athletes, I didn’t play with a lot of skilled guys, shooters/ball handlers. I was like I need a change — before the season even started. I was tired of having to be the only guy that can make 3s, make jump shots consistently.
Kevin Durant in the Oklahoma City Thunder
For most of the successful years of the Thunder, Kevin Durant was surrounded by talented athletes. Russell Westbrook was his main partner as a dynamic point guard. However, beyond being a playmaker, Westbrook was (and still isn’t) a great 3-point shooter.
During his final season with the Thunder, other talented players on the team included Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Enes Kanter and Dion Waiters. They were talented players. But they lacked the ability to be a threat from the three-point line.
That season, the Thunder were a bel0w average team in terms of 3-pointers attempted and made. A major handicap in the era of the 3-point shot.
Adams and Kanter played in the paint. Roberson was more of a defensive specialist than any offensive threat. Ibaka, Waiters and Westbrook were good scoring and supporting cast but no one in the Thunder averaged more than a single 3-pointer per game. Their games were more uni-dimensional.
Ultimately, despite being 3-1 up against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder lost the series 3-4. This was the final straw for Kevin Durant wanting to remain at Oklahoma. July 1st, 2016 as an unrestricted free agent, he announced his decision to join the Warriors.
Durant in the Golden State Warriors
Joining the Warriors, Kevin Durant was teaming up with Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Here, Kevin Durant was surrounded by the players that were more akin to what he wanted.
Thompson and Curry remain elite 3-point shooters. Curry and Green were able to create opportunities for other teammates or their own shots. And through Iguodala, Thomspon and Green the team possessed three elite defenders.
With these upgrades to the roster, Durant and the Warriors would reach three consecutive NBA finals. They won two of them against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He won the finals MVP in both years.
It was a successful partnership. However, he burned the bridge with the Thunder, as he’s been consistently booed on his return matches against the Thunder. His relationship with former Thunder teammates deteriorated. He traded barbs with Russell Westbrook and recently with Kendrick Perkins
His future in the NBA
After three seasons with the Warriors, Kevin Durant left. He signed with the Brooklyn Nets as an unrestricted free agent. Durant is on a 4-year $164 million contract. He was one of two marquee free agent signings made by the Nets, who signed his friend Kyrie Irving.
He will not play during the 2019-20 season. He’s rehabbing an injured Achilles Tendon, suffered during the 2019 NBA finals.
The Nets will hope he re-emerges as an elite level player once again. Durant will be a centrepiece for the Nets aiming to reach the pinnacle of the Eastern Conference and a possible title.
Durant has career averages of 27 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists on 52% field goal accuracy.
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