Analysis: With Durant, Warriors will be different, but better


Analysis: With Durant, Warriors will be different, but better

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.

[RELATED: Warriors to introduce Kevin Durant on Thursday]

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.

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss


Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

OAKLAND -- If Quinn Cook plays at anything close to the level he performed Friday night against the Kings, the Warriors should avoid any catastrophic stumbling in the absence of their top three scorers.

They stumbled plenty in a 98-93 loss to Sacramento, but not because of Cook. The two-way player who has spent most of the season with G-League Santa Cruz scored a team-high 25 points, shot 10-of-13 from the field and played respectable defense.

He did more than could have been reasonably expected.

“I felt like this was coming,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was fantastic. He really lit it up and gave us a huge boost.”

The Warriors ran into problems elsewhere, shared among the usually reliable veterans who need to be particularly reliable in the absence of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Usual starters Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia combined to shoot 6-of-20.

Usual reserves Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West and Nick Young shot a collective 13-of-39.

In the second half, when Warriors mustered only 34 points -- a season-low for any half -- the six vets combined to take 32 shots and missed 24.

Those are atrocious numbers and they explain what went wrong in a game that was there for the taking.

They’re also an anomaly.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Green said. “But we got some good shots. We got ‘Dre on a couple of pull-ups in the lane, I got a couple open shots, Nick got a couple open shots, Zaza got a couple open ones. D-West had one pop in and out. (Kevon Looney) had two pop in and out.

“We just got cold. But hopefully those shots will fall tomorrow.”

West, returning after missing four games with a cyst on his right arm, was 1-of-6 from the field. He came into this game as a 60.8-percent shooter this season.

Igoudala was 4-of-10; he shot 70 percent over the previous 10 games. Young was 5-of-15, well below his 44-percent shooting this season. Livingston’s 3-of-8 shooting is uncharacteristic of someone shooting at least 50 percent for four years running.

If history is any indication, Green (5-of-14) and Pachulia (1-of-6) are not going continue to miss at the rate they did in this game, the first this season in which the Warriors were without all three of their top scorers.

If history is any indication, the Warriors can’t be counted on to score 34 points on 27.3-percent shooting in the second half of a game.

“I loved how our guys battled,” Kerr said. “They really competed well and made some big plays. We just couldn’t get the ball to go down quite enough in the second half.”

That’s going to change, perhaps as soon as Saturday night in Phoenix, were the Suns are playing to lose.

So if Cook plays steady basketball, the Warriors will fall off and their fans won’t become a basket case while waiting for the three shooters. The Warriors surely believe that.

“He really showed up. I’ve been waiting on that Quinn,” Green said. “We needed that. It was great for him to come out and play like that. And most importantly, his shots were falling. Since he’s been playing (more often) he’s been playing well, but his shots weren’t really falling. But tonight, they fell for him.”

They won’t always fall at a rate of 77 percent. They won’t have to once his teammates drop in a few more of their own shots.

Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings


Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings

OAKLAND -- Omri Casspi sustained a sprained right ankle with 9:00 left in the second quarter of the Warriors-Kings game Friday night and did not return.

After dropping in a short hook shot with 9:04 left in the quarter, Casspi landed awkwardly, rolling his ankle and dropping to the floor clutching his lower leg. Down for a couple minutes, he eventually got up and limped into the locker room, accompanied by physical performance specialist Chelsea Lane.

Casspi played six minutes off the bench, producing 6 points, one assist and one rebound against his former team.

He joins Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Pat McCaw and Klay Thompson on the sideline.