The Golden State Warriors served the Minnesota Timberwolves a hot slice of humble pie on Wednesday night. And the performance may have put some misplaced ideas in people’s heads.
The Dubs dismantled the young and talented T-Wolves without one of the best players in the world, Kevin Durant, and instantly, Basketball Twitter threw out the theory that the Warriors don’t need KD to win another NBA Championship.
During the ESPN broadcast, color commentator Jeff Van Gundy mentioned how the Warriors would be the favorites to win it all without Durant, and later in the game stated they’d win it all without “Slim.”
It’s an interesting debate because Golden State is absolutely loaded. To the point where people feel compelled to engage in these thought experiments.
Let’s be honest, boys and girls: the Warriors need Durant. They needed him to combat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they need him this season to win back-to-back titles.
This is not to throw shade at head coach Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of the band. Yes, the Warriors did win a championship without Durant in 2015, but, there’s a reason general manager Bob Myers and owner Joe Lacob basically ditched Harrison Barnes to go after Durant and bring him to the Bay Area.
I get the argument. But, teams adjust — and as good as Curry played during the 2015-16 season, it was apparent that Warriors needed to figure out a way to create easier buckets. If anybody paid attention to that seasons Western Conference Finals, the Warriors struggled against Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. KD was a two-way monster in that series as the Thunder pulled out to a 3-1 series lead.
To this day, I don’t know how the Warriors pulled off that epic comeback. They literally pulled that series out of their ass, with Thompson activating god-mode and sinking 11 3-pointers in a Game 6 performance we’ll never forget.
Look, there’s a debate that the Warriors pre-Durant — who went 73-9, the best regular season record in NBA history — would’ve won the NBA title against the Cavaliers had Curry not slipped on a wet spot in Houston and sprained his MCL, and if Green hadn’t been suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals with the Warriors up 3-1. (And, don’t forget about Andre Iguodala’s back tightening up as well as Andrew Bogut missing the final two games of that series with multiple bone bruises to his left knee.)
But Harrison Barnes — who is now in Dallas making good money — came up small (to put it lightly) in the last three games of the NBA Finals.
Do I need to remind you that he went 5-for-32 in those games — including a scoreless Game 6?
That wasn’t the only reason the Warriors became the first team in NBA history to blow a 3-1 lead in the championship round. But, it was evident that they were too dependant on Curry and Thompson bailing them out with a 28-foot 3-point shot.
They needed an offensive weapon that could get to the free throw line and basically get easy buckets. Now, the Warriors still go as Curry goes, as we all witnessed in Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Curry struggles, the Warriors struggle due to opponents being petrified of his long-distance shooting.
However, Durant makes the game that much easier for Curry as opposing defenses can’t blitz him at halfcourt. Opponents have to respect KD. That has an effect on everyone.
So the notion that the Warriors don’t need Durant to win a championship is nonsense. Don’t drink that Kool-Aid, folks. If you need a reminder, just fire up YouTube and watch Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals again.
If there’s any confusion, the answer lies there, where Durant’s 3-pointer in LeBron’s eye essentially clinched the Warriors second title in three seasons.
Durant is needed. And please, don’t let anybody tell you anything differently.
Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from 12-3 on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner, and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.Golden State WarriorsKevin DurantSteve Kerr