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Why the debate over the Kevin Durant-Warriors conundrum is a big waste of time

The Sun News logoThe Sun News 5/21/2019 By David Wetzel, The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 8: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors looks on against the Houston Rockets during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2019 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) © Getty OAKLAND, CA - MAY 8: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors looks on against the Houston Rockets during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2019 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) I keep hearing the same debate.

Is Kevin Durant truly one of the NBA’s greatest players if the Golden State Warriors are winning without him?

Some are saying yes and some no.

But the question isn’t so simple.

There is no doubt in my mind that Durant is one of the top three or five players in the game. He can do it all, especially now that he’s become a defensive force with the Warriors.

Yet, Golden State — mainly Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — has seemed to look better lately without Durant.

Personally, I think there’s a reason for that.

Kevin Durant can get baskets just about any time, without picks or set plays. As a group, however, the Warriors are built opposite. They thrive on ball movement, cuts and picks to set up shooters.

Can the two co-exist? A pair of NBA titles in which Durant was Finals MVP will tell you yes.

The Warriors flow better without Durant when shots are going down. However, he fills a void as a guy who can get you points when shots aren’t falling.

Do the Warriors need Durant? No. Is he a nice luxury? Yes.

Does Durant need the Warriors? No. Does playing for them make his life easier? Of course.

In essence, Durant is not a system guy, he’s kind of like a nuclear weapon for a team like Golden State. When all else fails, you can bust out the big gun.

So, in conclusion, I wouldn’t say the Warriors are better without Durant. They are smoother without him.

I think the problem more so is that Golden State is so far ahead of everyone else, that it doesn’t really matter. They won without him (let alone DeMarcus Cousins).

But, as has been documented, Durant seems to have a chip on his shoulder. He’s once again allowing others’ critical tweets to garner his attention.

It’s pretty clear he wants to be “the man” and, no matter how many Finals MVPs he wins with Golden State, it’s not happening there. It’s Stephen Curry’s team and will be until he decides otherwise.

That’s a big part of the reason I think Durant will leave in the offseason. As ironic as it seems, the team he left — the Oklahoma City Thunder — for the Warriors is the type of isolation-heavy squad in which he fits best.

While you can forget a return there, as Paul George has taken over that role for a team that can’t seem to get out of the first round, it’s likely Durant will go elsewhere. It will likely be somewhere in which he can call the shots and essentially do whatever he wants.

According to rumors, Durant isn’t exactly fond of playing for Kerr, who obviously wants his team to play a certain way. Durant had his way with player-friendly (or perhaps even push-over) coaches in Scott Brooks and Billy Donovan and it’s safe to assume he’s wants that again.

He wants to win while being the undisputed “man.” I can’t blame him for that. I just don’t know if it will happen despite the fact he came dangerously close to do that with OKC.

So, once again, is Golden State better without Durant?

It looks like next year we’ll find out.

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