Kevin Durant agreed to sign a 2 year $54.3 million deal with the Golden State Warriors, signalling that the apocalypse is upon us. The sound of hooves of the four horsemen draw nigh. It is the end of the NBA's competitive landscape as we know it. In one fell swoop, two of the Western Conference contenders have altered their makeup, whether for better or worse remains to be seen.
After vacillating between the Warriors, Celtics, Thunder, Spurs, Clippers and the Heat, Durant has decided that the best place to be is with the team which just eliminated him. The impact of Jerry West in Durant's decision cannot be ignored.
Here are five things you can look forward to now that Kevin Durant is a part of Dub nation:
#1 Offensive records will be annihilated
Last season the Golden State Warriors led the league with 1077 made 3 pointers. That was a new NBA record. The second spot on that list belonged to the Cavaliers with 880 made 3s. The Warriors had two of the most prolific shooters in the league in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. And now they've just added a near 7-foot monster who is an unerringly accurate shooter.
The Warriors had committed to playing small ball, but they occasionally went big with Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli to counter other teams. This season it seems they've decided to stick with what works and take it to the extreme.
Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli will likely be let go as the Warriors might forego their rights to them. Andrew Bogut is already moved. This paves the way for the Warriors to field a lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and any other player. The floor spacing provided by this lineup will be insane.
Durant brings career averages of 27.4 points, 7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game to the Warriors. Expect the Warriors to set the record for points per game, three-pointers made, assists per game and perhaps a few more records.
#2 Russell Westbrook will kill himself trying to blast the Warriors
On his bright and sunny days, Russell Westbrook plays with a mammoth chip on his shoulder with an intensity which would terrify a homicidal lion. No other player matches his blend of ferociousness and explosive athleticism. What sets Westbrook apart is his unbridled rage. An all consuming flame ready to devour one and all.
Players like Westbrook should not be provoked. Players go out of their way to avoid confrontations with someone who will only use an affront as rocket fuel to blast his opponent.
And this is the player whom Kevin Durant has ditched in favour of the opponent who barely beat them in seven games. Can you imagine how incensed Westbrook will be with Kevin Durant? He will kill himself trying to get back to Durant and haunt him.
Look for Westbrook to propel himself into the MVP conservation this season. The Thunder cannot be written off by any means. Back when Durant got sidelined, Westbrook showed flashes of what he's capable of when he is the man.
This season Russell Westbrook is going to punish the entire league night after night to attain vindication after Durant leaving.
3) Burnt jerseys and boos
Loyalty is a one-way street in the NBA. Teams can move players all the time, but when a player switches teams then issues of loyalty come up. A player doesn't owe it to any team to spend his entire career with them. Regardless, such breakups are always messy.
@Greg_Monaco I wanna play with Oklahoma City for my whole career— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) April 28, 2009
That's still alright. There's nothing wrong with expressing loyalty towards the team you are with. Nothing here to come and bite you.
Now everybody wanna play for the heat and the Lakers? Let's go back to being competitive and going at these peoples!— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 16, 2010
This particular tweet is going to make the rounds, and probably find itself printed and in the crowd and waved when Durant is shooting free throws. Kevin Durant will be bracing himself for the storm of hate which will come his way.
Speaking of loyalty, anyone remember when the Daily Oklahoman ran a Mr. Unreliable headline for Kevin Durant? Loyalty is supposedly a one way street in the league.
4) Rewriting the history of Kevin Durant
Ever since Kevin Durant came into the league, he's been painted as the poster child of the league. He's enjoyed a good image, accentuated by his "You're the real MVP" speech. Durant had a squeaky clean image, helping the Seattle Supersonics transition over to Oklahoma. And now it is all going to be annihilated.
The city of Seattle lost its NBA team, now that team has lost its superstar MVP. When the team had to relocate, there wasn't a solitary face towards which irate fans could direct their ire. Now, Kevin Durant has firmly placed himself in the line of fire.
The next few years will see Kevin Durant's legacy and image be tarnished to an unprecedented level. He will be berated, derided, insulted, and chided for joining an opponent who beat his team.
When LeBron switched teams to the Heat, Michael Jordan called him out saying, "There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry [Bird], called up Magic [Johnson] and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team. I was trying to beat those guys."
Somebody beat you ! And you go there... ? Superstar not doing that man..— Jusuf Nurki (@nurkic23) July 4, 2016
It is going to get a lot worse for Kevin Durant before it gets better.
5) Unparalleled pressure
The Thunder had just brought in Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and Domantas Sabonis in exchange for Serge Ibaka. This move would have bolstered their already deep roster. But now it has a gaping hole about 6’10” long.
One ought to have a good reason for jettisoning a team that good that it nearly defeated the defending champions in 7 games. The pressure on Durant to win a ring is immense now that he's jumped ship to where the grass is greener.
On the other side of the pond, the Golden State Warriors finished a season for the record books. They have two of the best shooters in the league in their back court, and now they've added the best offensive forward in the league to their front court.
The pressure on the Golden State Warriors after breaking the regular season record for most wins and losing in the Finals was already immense. Add to that the fact that they went out and grabbed one of the top five players in the league in the offseason, and now there is literally no other option for them except to win a ring right now.
This season is championship-or-bust for the Warriors.