“The motion offense we run in Golden State, it only works to a certain point. We can totally rely on our system for maybe the first two rounds. Then the next two rounds we’re going to have to mix in individual play. We’ve got to throw teams off, because they’re smarter in that round of playoffs. So now I have to dive into my bag, deep, to create stuff on my own, off the dribble, isos, pick-and-rolls, more so than let the offense create points for me.”
That was Kevin Durant speaking to Wall Street Journal’s J.R. Moehringer about the Warriors offense and KD’s role in it.
A lot of people wanted to take that as an insult to Steve Kerr and his Warriors’ offense. Not Kerr. He thinks Durant is right, he told Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
“I wasn’t at all offended what Kevin said because it’s basically the truth,” Kerr said. “You look at any system, I mean, I played the triangle with Michael Jordan. The offense ran a lot smoother all regular season and the first couple rounds of the playoffs than it did in the conference finals and Finals. It just did.”
Kerr continued: “That’s why guys like Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant are who they are. They can transcend any defense. But defenses in the playoffs, deep in the playoffs, combined with the physicality of the game — where refs can’t possibly call a foul every time — means that superstars have to take over. No system is just going to dice a Finals defense up. You have to rely on individual play. I didn’t look at (his comment) as offensive. I look at that as fact…
“For us, with Kevin, I look at the ’16-17 season, his first year, as really our apex,” Kerr said. “We had great offenses every year. But that year, we had a great combination of movement and flow and systemic success combined with the brilliance of his 1-on-1 play. That was the peak of our offense functioning.”
Durant is one of the better isolation players this game has ever seen, the Warriors would have been doing themselves a disservice not to use that skill. They didn’t need it every night, not with skill on their roster and the buy-in for the system the team had, but in big moments you lean on a guy like Durant. It was most evident at the end of the 2016 NBA Finals, when LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were able to create some isolation offense and the Warriors needed their guy to do the same. Durant was that guy.
Some people want Durant’s exit from Golden State to be an acrimonious divorce with shots fired. Sorry, it’s not The War of the Roses. Maybe a better explanation is that the two sides grew apart. That doesn’t mean everything was or is perfect between the sides, but it’s not venomous. Durant just felt it was time for a change.
Kerr is good with Durant and good with his comments about the Warriors’ offense. They’ve moved on. We can too.