Blogtable: Will Kevin Durant's return be an easy or difficult one for Golden State Warriors?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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How easy or difficult will it be for the Warriors to integrate Kevin Durant back into the lineup?
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Steve Aschburner: It shouldn’t be too hard, considering how well they all did when they first went through that process to start the season. The socializing aspect of bringing their new superstar into the fold was dealt with then, so presumably Stephen Curry won’t feel obliged to take the same big step backwards in assertiveness that muted his game through Christmas. So no, this is not one of the worries that keeps me awake at night.
Fran Blinebury: Durant is an All-NBA talent. The Warriors are the best team in the NBA. They are all quite basketball smart, quite unselfish fellows with a head coach who knows which way the ball bounces. There will likely be a hiccup or two until they get back in rhythm. But in the end, it just makes the best team better.
Scott Howard-Cooper: It’s more about Kevin Durant integrating himself than the Warriors integrating KD. It’s just a matter of getting his timing back and getting back into basketball shape. The Xs-and-Os won’t be a problem. He had enough time with them before the injury and the same bottom line from the start of the season, when we could have asked a similar question, remains: Durant is unselfish, the rest of the Warriors are unselfish, the coach is smart, and everyone cares a lot more about playoff wins than stats.
Shaun Powell: Not difficult at all. He already has 59 games of getting-to-know-you experience with the Dubs and his style of play agrees with the other shooters on the team. Also, understand that KD, along with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, are very unselfish. There’s enough to go around for everyone, as they’ve already proven. My real concern is how KD does defensively, especially when matched up with smaller and quicker players; will the post-injury do anything to discourage or restrict that?
John Schuhmann: On a difficulty scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 3. The Warriors have moved the ball better without Durant, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve been a better offensive team since his injury. They rank eighth in offensive efficiency since March 1. There will be some adjustments for guys getting fewer touches and Durant will stop the ball movement at times, but he’s still a huge upgrade over the combination of Matt Barnes and Patrick McCaw. The Warriors have been a better defensive team since Durant was injured, so it will be interesting to see how well they play on that end of the floor when they face Portland or Denver offense (No. 3 and No. 1 since the All-Star break, respectively) in the first round.
Sekou Smith: The Warriors are dealing with first world problems that other NBA teams would love to tackle this time of year. They’ll have no problem welcoming Kevin Durant back into the rotation. The 59 games he played before being injured provide the foundation for my argument that the Warriors will indeed be just fine while they figure out who goes where during this transition period. We are talking about the best team in basketball welcoming back one of the handful of best players in the game. Like I said, these are first world problems.
Ian Thomsen: Of all the obstacles facing teams entering the playoffs, this one has to be the least intimidating. The poor Warriors have to make room in their rotation for Kevin Durant, who was having his best year and fitting in almost seamlessly before he limped away. They already have learned how to play around him, and by recreating that formula they know that a championship is likely to result. This is the opposite of trying to fit DeMarcus Cousins into the lineup in New Orleans. So long as Durant is healthy, then the Warriors should be rolling by the end of the semifinals.
Lang Whitaker: Don’t call it a comeback. After all, the second time’s the charm, right? Considering Golden State had the first few months of the season to get him used to playing with his new teammates, this time around it should be a relatively easy re-introduction. They know what to do and how it works. Now it’s time to just do it.