Durant Steals The Thunder’s Show

Todd Potter, Sports Editor

Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and instead join the Golden State Warriors did more than just turn heads, as fans, players, and even past teammates gasped at his unpredictable move.

Durant announced in a post on The Player’s Tribune that he was going to sign with the Warriors instead of re-signing with the Thunder, the team he had been a part of since he was drafted 8 years ago.   

The Thunder made it to the Conference Finals in the NBA Playoffs with Durant in 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2016.  They made it to the NBA Finals in 2012, losing to the Miami Heat in five games.  In 2014, he won the MVP award, receiving more votes than Lebron James and Blake Griffin.  

The mayor of Oklahoma City, Mick Cornett, explains how much Durant meant to the city’s reputation after hearing he joined the Warriors.    

“If you said you’re from Oklahoma City, they’re likely to say Kevin Durant or they’re likely to say OKC Thunder.  He put us on the map. …  He was the face of the franchise both here locally and worldwide.”

The addition of Kevin Durant to the already-dominant Warriors (featuring back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry, two-time All-Star Klay Thompson, and All-Star Draymond Green) has upset many people. Some say it creates a “superteam.”  Others point out Durant’s move to improve his chances of winning doesn’t align with the obligation of superstars to stay with the team that first drafted them.  

Rishi Sunkavalli (11) suggests this move will decrease the competitiveness in the playoffs.

“Kevin Durant moving to the Warriors has not only affected the Warriors and Thunder.  It has thrown off the entire competitive balance of the NBA.  This competitive balance is what made the 2016 NBA Playoffs one of the best in recent memory.”

So far, the absence of Durant hasn’t hindered the Thunder’s ability to win.  Russell Westbrook has stepped up, accumulating an average of 34.2 points over the first five games of the season.  The Thunder extended the contracts of their main three players, Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, and Victor Oladipo, showing that they aren’t necessarily trying to acquire a superstar through free agency and want to build the franchise around the good players that they already have.  

The 4-1 Warriors are gradually adjusting to the addition of Durant and getting used to working as a team.

Srujan Kumar (11) insists that the Warriors have yet to reach their full potential.

“The Warriors still need to work on their team as a whole, especially due to their lack of defense in the paint.  Both Durant and Curry haven’t had drops in their stats. That alone is significant enough that they are able to work together and not against each other.”

This 2016-2017 NBA season is sure to be exciting, especially with Durant and the Warriors on their hunt for the playoffs, seeking revenge against the Cleveland Cavaliers, having lost to them in Game 7 of the Finals last season.