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Season-In-Review Player Capsules: The Wings
by Brian Witt
A player-by-player look back at the 2016-17 season, continuing with the wings.
Yesterday was the guards. Today, the wings.
The positional breakdown of the Warriors’ 2016-17 Championship season continues today with individual player capsules for Kevin Durant, Andre Igoudala, Patrick McCaw and Matt Barnes:
It would be difficult to come up with a more ideal outcome for Kevin Durant in his first season with Golden State. He dazzled on the brightest stage, starring in the NBA Finals in helping to lead the Warriors to the championship. Being named the Finals Most Valuable Player was just icing on top of the cake.
Durant led all players in the Finals with 35.2 points to go along with his 8.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. In doing so, he joined Michael Jordan in 1993 as only Finals MVPs to average at least 35 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the Finals. His 176 total points in the series fell just two points shy of Allen Iverson’s Finals record for most points scored in a five-game series, and he became the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 with five-straight 30-point games in the Finals. Durant also joined Magic Johnson and Moses Malone as the only players in NBA history to win Finals MVP in their first year with their team, and he’s now the third player ever with at least four scoring titles and one NBA title to his career resume.
Outside of a knee sprain that forced him to miss 19 consecutive games starting at the beginning of March, the regular season was a relatively smooth ride as well for Durant. His 25.1 points per game ranked 13th in the league and second on the team, while his 1.6 blocks per contest led all Golden State players. In fact, he was one of only two players in the entire league to average at least 25.0 points and 1.5 blocks per game. He displayed remarkable efficiency throughout the year, and his 53.7 percent shooting from the field during the regular season marked a career-best.
While Durant stole the show in the Finals, Andre Iguodala wasn’t too shabby, either. He had the best plus-minus (+60) of any player in the Finals, while nobody else topped plus-40. In the 99 minutes Iguodala was off the floor in the Finals, the Cavaliers actually outscored Golden State by 26 points. He joins Manu Ginobli as the only players in the last 20 years to have led all players in overall plus-minus multiple times in the Finals.
Throughout the regular season, Iguodala was a consistent source of reliable production. Not only did he post by far the best field goal percentage of his decorated career (52.8 percent), he also led all qualified NBA players with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.5. A finalist for the Sixth Man of the Year award, Iguodala was both the leader of the bench unit and a member of the Warriors’ vaunted closing lineup, which outscored opponents by 23.9 points per 100 possessions during the regular season.
There were a lot of great individual stories on this year’s Warriors team, and one of them was the pleasant surprise of a 21-year rookie second round pick. Patrick McCaw exhibited the poise of an aged veteran, and finished off his rookie campaign with 12 crucial minutes in Golden State’s championship-clinching victory.
McCaw earned that opportunity through his contributions during the regular season, in which he made 20 starts in the 71 games he played in. He averaged 15.1 minutes per game, over which he posted averages of 4.0 points and 1.4 rebounds while shooting 43.3 percent from the field. He helped fill the void in the starting lineup when Durant went down with the injury, and his combination of length and quickness proved incredibly useful in Golden State’s switch-heavy defensive scheme. Even prior to the start of the regular season, McCaw had the look of a rookie advanced well beyond his years.
And if we’re talking great stories, Matt Barnes might have a claim to the most poetic. 10 years after being a part of the 'We Believe' Warriors, Barnes found himself back in Golden State after being signed as a free agent at the beginning of March. He immediately helped lessen the blow of Durant’s injury, and started five of the 20 regular season games in which he appeared for the Warriors, averaging 5.7 points and 4.6 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per contest. He appeared in 12 playoff games before seeing his return to Golden State conclude with a fairy tale ending, winning an NBA Championship for the first time in his 14-year career.
Next up: The bigs.