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Draymond envisions Durant’s role in SI interview

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Draymond Green opened up to Sports Illustrated about his initial thoughts on the Warriors landing Kevin Durant.

The whole thing is worth the read, but here’s the nugget that stood out:

I think one thing that he really adds to us is that he’s a guy who can get a bucket at any time, in any way. When you’re talking about guys who can score from every area on the floor, you’re talking about Kevin Durant.

Flanked with a variety of shooters and dribblers, the Warriors desperately need a player who can play the role of a slasher. Harrison Barnes never developed into that role. Klay Thompson has significantly improved at taking the ball to the rim, but you don’t want to take one of the NBA’s best shooters away from the three-point line.

Since Steph Curry and Green will likely be the ones bringing the basketball up the court most of the time, positioning Durant in the corner as a slasher could become one of the team’s most effective plays. Because of the Warriors’ lack of a daunting post presence, they aren’t going to be a post-up team. They’ll still need to score points in the paint — Green and Durant will have to carry that torch.

Durant has never really been a slasher in his career. He’s been arguably the best isolation player in the league, and has relied on his midrange jumper to decimate opponents. The problem is that isolation plays can’t be his main style of scoring with the Warriors. It’ll halt ball movement and the flow — exactly how Curry hurt Golden State in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

If Durant does become the team’s slasher, it totally jives with his statement Monday morning on The Players’ Tribune.

“I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”

Personal growth should mean Durant driving to the bucket. With his 6-foot-11 frame, this type of play could morph into a prominent source of scoring. But, again, it will be a completely different role. According to NBA.com, last season Durant averaged just 4.6 drives to the hoop per game — the same amount as Brooklyn guard Shane Larkin. Boston guard Isaiah Thomas led the league with 11.7 drives per game, while Steph Curry finished tied for 29th in the NBA with 6.3 per game.

Durant driving to the rim creates a pick your poison situation. If you collapse on the towering KD, Curry and Thompson will be open for three. If you give Durant a one-on-one matchup at the rim, he’ll generally beat you to death with his finishing skills around the cup.

The Warriors will have to evolve on offense. They’ll still be based upon ball movement and screens. But if they really want to dominate every aspect of the game, they’ll want to utilize Durant’s untapped skill set as a slasher. Curry shouldn’t lead the Warriors in drives come 2017. Durant should.

 

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