Programming note: Watch Kevin Durant's introductory press conference today at 1:30pm on CSN Bay Area, and STREAMING LIVE right here.
The Takeover has been a staple of the Warriors’ rise in recent years, with Steph Curry or Klay Thompson or Draymond Green going nuclear to put his stamp on a moment or a quarter to bury an opponent.
It’s part of The Show that is the Warriors. It’s the highlight. Fans jamming themselves into Oracle Arena do so as much to glimpse The Takeover as to experience the victory that follows, much as a boxing crowd yearns not to see a decision but to witness a knockout.
That won’t change Thursday, when Kevin Durant is introduced as the newest Warrior, his signature on a contract signaling an epic change for the team that entertained global observers while winning 140 games over the past two seasons and a record 73 in 2015-16.
Assuming good health, the regular-season wins total will be similar, high-60s to low-70s. Offensive efficiency will improve. So should rebounding, and the defensive numbers will be very good.
What will change, however, are the individual statistics of Curry, Thompson and Green.
The Splash Brothers now have a third sibling, which logic dictates is a benefit to all. And Green, a gold-plated toolbox of a player, will have another toy.
Though Curry’s scoring average will drop from a career-high 30.1 and he’s not likely to repeat as scoring champ, his shooting percentage should rise as defenses scramble to monitor Durant and Thompson. Curry’s assist totals, which have declined in each of the past two seasons, should go back up.
Life will be easier for Curry, and he’ll still have plenty of opportunities to transcend. The Steph Takeover is going nowhere.
Thompson’s scoring average, which has gone up in each of his five seasons and was 22.1 last season, almost certainly will decline. As the man most likely to break to offense with a questionable shot, he’ll have operate more judiciously. He will, as he knows Curry is not the only teammate that can demoralize defenses with shooting. The quality of Thompson’s shots will get better, and he’ll make them at a higher percentage. He’ll handle the ball a lot less, which is a good thing.
Life will be easier for Thompson, too, because he’ll prosper from the KD effect. And nobody is a better catch-and-shoot scorer than Klay Thompson. The Klay Takeover happens several times a season – the last one being a memorable Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals. There is no reason to expect that to change.
Green has the amazing ability to provide whatever it is the Warriors need most. He observes and responds. Need assists? Love it. Need scoring? OK. Need rebounding? That’s what he does. Green led the Warriors in assists and rebounding. Curry will threaten his assist numbers, and Durant is vastly superior rebounder to the departing Harrison Barnes.
The Draymond Takeover is the most variable of all, as Green can punish defenses as much with his will as with his skill, whether it’s rebounding and running one-man fast breaks or carving up defenses with artful passing. Nobody’s game, not even Curry’s should benefit more from the acquisition of Durant.
The KD Takeover is, well, both unfair and inevitable because Durant can take over a game as well as anyone, including Curry. At 6-foot-10, with the full offensive arsenal – he generates quality shots off the dribble or off the catch, operates well out of the high or low post and passes nearly as well as Green – no one in the NBA is tougher to defend.
When Durant is on fire, defenders are ambient noise. He’ll be given room to operate, more than he’s ever known; that’s one of the reasons he’s joining the Warriors.
The KD Takeover will be on display come October, and having it available is why the Warriors can become the most lethal offensive club in NBA history.
For those wondering if there will be enough balls to go around, Durant has spent the bulk of his career playing with Russell Westbrook, who dominates the ball as much as anyone not named James Harden.
Coming to an offense that believes in ball movement and rhythm, this will be an exceedingly welcome change for Durant.