KD is an elite player in this league. One of the best scorers of all time that can shoot from anywhere over anyone, and plays underrated defense, but do the Warriors really even need him? Let’s take a look.
Why the Warriors Need KD KD is obviously an elite talent, and no team is better without a superstar like that. The Warriors played the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015-16 NBA Finals, where they infamously blew a 3-1 lead. That series was before the addition of Kevin Durant, who the Warriors had just beaten in the WCF. The following year, the Cavs had just as good of a team, but they went from winning in 7 to losing in 5, and then the next in 4 (all though the Cavs lost Kyrie Irving). This is all because of KD. His insane Finals stats and impact has led to his two Finals MVPs, where he not only put up monster offensive numbers against LeBron, he was playing very good defense all while being the go to guy in the clutch. This year has obviously shown that again. After Durant went down with what appeared to be a calf strain in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Rockets, the Warriors went on a hot streak, beating the Rockets twice and sweeping the Blazers. However; in the Finals the Warriors are currently down 3-1 to the Toronto Raptors. A lot of this has to do with all of the pressure on Steph Curry. When KD is out, Curry is forced to do everything, and all the defensive attention is on Steph. When KD plays, the defense will focus on KD, allowing Curry to free himself up and get buckets at a more efficient clip. Golden State would most likely be up in this series if KD played every game, and even though they are down 3-1, a KD return in Game 5 seems likely which would totally shift the series.
Why the Warriors Do Not Need KD Some stats really show that the Warriors don’t need KD. They have a 73 win pace when Durant doesn’t play but Curry does, and have also won 73 games without him. Durant may improve the roster, but there is an argument that he makes the Warriors play more selfish. It’s no secret that KD is am iso heavy player, which is something the Warriors tend to stray away from, which could be the reason for their great record without him. The Warriors also blazed through the West after KD got hurt, whereas they lost twice to the 8th seeded Clippers with Durant in the lineup. After KD’s likely departure this off-season we can get a much better look of how good the Warriors really are without him, but looking at the bare stats such as win pace, they seem to be just fine without him.
Verdict The Warriors do need Kevin Durant. They may not need him to be serious contenders or come out of the West, but they do need him to win a championship. The Raptors are showing us that right now with the way they have taken advantage of Golden State without one of their top 2 players. The Warriors may be better off without him though, as he likely would demand a max, meaning Golden State would be paying Durant an insane amount of money at an old age, but as of right now, the Warriors do need KD to win championships.