Kevin Durant’s decision to re-commit long-term to the Brooklyn Nets has significantly tilted their title odds. Most oddsmakers now place Brooklyn in the top five teams who are likely to win the NBA championship next season.
A healthy Durant with a chip on his shoulder could mean good things for the Nets. However, The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, who has been extensively covering the Golden State Warriors, doesn’t see it that way.
Thompson recalled KD’s time with the Warriors when things turned sour and shared on a podcast how things could get interesting in Brooklyn:
“Before you get to the games, training camp’s gonna happen and KD’s gonna show up to a team that he basically told everybody I don’t wanna play for, for a coach that he tried to get fired. How does that work!?
“I’ve been on the other side of this where KD ain’t happy, he want out and everything was all bad once he brought that vibe to the room.”
Kevin Durant’s last season with the Warriors felt tense and often testy. It didn’t have the same exciting vibe as KD’s previous two years with the Bay Area team. Marcus Thompson, like many in the media at the time, knew Durant’s time with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green could be over.
Despite all of that, the Golden State Warriors still had the opportunity to win a third straight NBA title against the Toronto Raptors. Only injuries to Durant and Thompson prevented what could have been a rare and coveted three-peat.
What Kevin Durant had with the Warriors back then isn’t what he will have with the Brooklyn Nets next season. Steve Nash isn’t on the same level as Steve Kerr, while Kyrie Irving is nowhere near as accomplished as Steph Curry.
Brooklyn also doesn’t have the culture that has made the Warriors a tough act to follow. When talent and hard work came up short, Golden State always had their culture to lean on. Durant will seemingly not have that luxury with the Brooklyn Nets.
Kevin Durant is still the Brooklyn Nets’ biggest ticket to the NBA Finals
Kevin Durant’s quality, however, could force everyone in the Brooklyn Nets to set aside personal emotions. Nash will have to get over KD’s demand to have him fired while the front office has no choice but to support Durant.
Durant struggled in a playoff series for the first time in his career during last year’s matchup with the Boston Celtics. Boston’s length, physicality and defensive scheme flummoxed the four-time scoring champ.
However, Kevin Durant is a diligent student of the game and would have relentlessly analyzed his performances last season. Despite that poor series against the Celtics, no one will count out a healthy and determined KD.
Presumably, the Brooklyn Nets will have the best version of Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons next season. The former will be playing in a contract year while the latter has to prove he’s still an All-Star caliber player.
Irving and Simmons, together, are great pieces for the Nets to have, but it’s Durant who will move the needle if they are to win a championship. How the Brooklyn Nets can adjust and move forward after all the drama could determine how far they go next season.