How big is the new Golden State Warriors superstar core? Big three? Big four? Big five? Assuming it’s a foursome, including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, it’s going to be interesting identifying the guy who lets the new chemistry and offensive scheme eat into his points and offensive role.
The numbers: Curry averaged 30.1 points per game last season, Thompson finished with 22.1 a game, Green was averaging 14 points a night. Durant, playing on the Oklahoma City Thunder at the time, averaged 28.1 points per game. But the way the Thunder play basketball and what the Warriors did for most of the season and the playoffs (until things became difficult) was very different. Curry did have the freedom for some solo acts from time to time, but ball movement, spacing, and giving up shots to find the best one.
They’re going to need to make some time and possession for Durant to do his thing. The Warriors believe that Durant can fit in with their brand of offense which he’s really not used to, but will also have to take advantage of his individual talent on offense, which often involves just him touching the ball on certain possessions. The genius of the Warriors offense is making a team-based scheme that helps everyone show off their strengths from time to time. It demands people to give up on some shots, except for Curry. It demands leaving the ego at the door.
With Green emerging as one of the three facilitators on the Warriors offense along with Curry and Andre Iguodala, he’s in a position to keep his numbers close to what they were last season. If anyone is going to get “hurt” by this, it’s going to be Curry and Thompson, unless Durant falls in love with being a passer and finding teammates open, and the amount of attention defenses have to give both him and Curry results in even more open looks for Thompson.
From a fantasy-theory standpoint, a lineup that includes Curry, Thompson, Green, Durant and anyone else is going to be almost impossible to defend, and it’ll be more about the Warriors not letting the easy route become too tempting (a lot of isos, slower pace), and finding the right blend on defense. Because as good as they’ve been offensively, it’s often their ability to make defensive squeezes that helps them finish games early, allowing those runs with barrages of three pointers that no one can respond to.
Maybe the way Durant fits in defensively, and his inclusion in a new death lineup, is the most important thing to watch for. Durant can’t defend multiple positions, but he did make life difficult for Green who doesn’t handle long-armed players very well. Just like the Warriors hide Curry and allow him to use his speed and hand quickness for steals, they might have to come up with a way for Durant to be effective, especially now that Andrew Bogut is gone. Maybe it doesn’t matter. When you have three players who can go off for 30 points and more at any given time, maybe defense isn’t that important. Just let Green, Thompson, Iguodala and Shaun Livingston worry about it.