Kevin Durant is going to end up as the smoothest, calmest, most efficient scorer of all time. No, it won’t be Stephen Curry. Curry has the flash, the instant fear, and the rage that incites and excites thousands with a single flick. Durant’s longevity, sustainability, and overall greatness in the scoring department is unparalleled. He needed 25 points on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers to surpass 20,000 points, a mark few NBA players own. He needed just one half. 9-10 shooting, 3-3 from distance, and 25 points in just 17 minutes. 40 points on 18 shots. Perhaps the two greatest and most efficient scorers, on a single team.
It was only fitting that the statue that’s coming of Durant would come in the way he nailed that jumper to get to 20K. The transition high dribble, long crossover shimmy, into the pullup midrange J. Classic Kevin Durant, a staple of a Warriors team that supercharged the movement of three-point shooting, only to fall back on a shot now ridiculed but unstoppable given the appropriate skillset.
As for the game itself, the Warriors failed to play defense even with Jordan Bell, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant all healthy and in the fold. They failed to score or even provide a semblance of a spark outside of the aforementioned KD. It was a bunch of random cuts, forced passes, and a cascade of frustration at all levels. Stephen Curry’s absence exacerbated the issues that have plagued the Warriors all season and is slowly starting to become a trend.
Omri Casspi can’t spread the floor. Nick Young can’t stay on the court. Patrick McCaw and Andre Iguodala won’t look in the vicinity of the basket. There is very little spacing on the floor outside of the 3 top scorers. The defense is lackluster and out of whack in regular season games that don’t matter. All these problems are well known but the lack of tangible solutions require a quiet tepidness perhaps reserved until May or even June.
For now, the Golden State Warriors will take solace in celebrating the milestone for Durant, look to get back the other all-time scorer, and embark on a long road trip they’ve made a statement on many times.
1. Andre Iguodala looks physically superb. The shot just isn’t going in, and it might never again. But the causes for concern shouldn’t be where the fans have it right now. He can still get to the hole in transition and he’s not hesitating on shots, they’re simply not going in right now. Perhaps the biggest problem is that he couldn’t contain Lou Williams in a crunchtime possession. If the defense slips.
2. Jordan Bell simply makes good things happen. There is the bad too, Steve Kerr subbed him out ASAP when he missed a backside rotation. But he was able to pick DJ a few times, rim run and finish down the court, and is fearless enough to dive to the rim and look to finish on PNRs. And was the only positive in plus-minus. He needs at least 20 minutes a game.
3. Steve Kerr’s coaching staff is know to take forever, perhaps even too late, to make on-court adjustments. Sending a double at Lou Williams, especially given that his teammates were not good, would have slowed down his 50-point night. Instead they waited until the game was in the bag to unleash a simple adjustment. Not an issue given how strong the Warriors gameplan usually is but we’ve seen it backfire before.
4. Omri Casspi is becoming an Iguodala, Livingston, McCaw clone with the way he’s eschewing open 3s to drive into multiple people at once. The only difference is that Casspi can shoot.
5. Draymond’s only offensive move at this point is to run right into the opposing player and try to flop for a foul. His defense, passing, and basketball IQ make him a top-10 player in the NBA but the lack of scoring versatility especially when the shot isn’t falling can be a concern moving forward.