The Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder both have something in common now: Losing Kevin Durant.
According to recent reports, Kevin Durant had his eyes on the Brooklyn Nets for quite some time. The two-time Finals MVP apparently had begun thinking about his future after the Golden State Warriors before the 2018-19 NBA season even concluded.
Does this sound familiar to you? Well, it may be because KD left the Oklahoma City Thunder in a similar way. Durant had reportedly been building a relationship with the Warriors long before he officially joined their team in the summer of 2016.
When Durant left the Thunder, the franchise had no other option but to rely heavily on Russell Westbrook. The frenetic point guard had long been a second-fiddle to Durant. Now that Durant was gone, Russ had complete freedom.
With that freedom came an intense workload. The Thunder looked at Westbrook to do everything on the court. Whether it be rebounding, playmaking or scoring, Russ was in charge of it all. This wasn’t necessarily because Russ wanted to play in this style, but he had no other choice.
Outside of Westbrook, the Thunder had little offensive firepower. Their second-leading scorer was Victor Oladipo at 15.3 points per game, but he was far from the All-Star we know today. Oladipo lacked any consistency and struggled to score on his own.
As a result, Westbrook registered an all-time high usage rate of 41.7 percent. This mark remains the highest in NBA history, with James Harden as the only other player to have a season above 40 percent.
Russ took advantage of this by averaging a triple-double and winning his first MVP. Sadly, his team suffered from their reliance on Westbrook, finishing with a 47-35 record and losing in the first round of the Playoffs.
This season, the Dubs may be forced to push Stephen Curry to his limits. In a league that is growing more and more competitive, Curry will need to have a historic season to keep the Warriors above .500.
Relying on Curry isn’t all bad. After all, he is a two-time MVP for a reason. However, entering his 11th NBA season, it might be best to reserve Curry’s legs as much as possible.
Thankfully, the Warriors find themselves in a slightly different situation than the Thunder did. While the Dubs may have lost Durant and will not have Klay Thompson for most of the season, they do still have Draymond Green and a young All-Star in D’Angelo Russell.
Green and Russell will prove to be the x-factors for Golden State. The team will desperately need them to carry some of the load, or else they will risk falling down the same path as the Thunder. It would be ideal for the Dubs to avoid that outcome at all costs.
The Warriors have a superior roster than the Thunder did back in 2017, meaning the Warriors hopefully won’t rely on Curry as much as they Thunder relied on Westbrook.