Warriors

Draymond cites Steph's growth in why Dubs needed KD in '17, '18

Warriors

After LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers thwarted the Warriors’ hopes of repeating as NBA champions in 2016, Kevin Durant arrived in the Bay Area and helped them win back-to-back titles over the next two seasons. 

The KD era is forever cemented in Dub Nation lore, and plenty has happened since then, from Durant walking in free agency to Golden State raising the Larry O’Brien trophy again without him.

But Draymond Green took a walk down memory lane on Monday night when his podcast joined forces with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter’s “The Old Man and The Three” for a live recording on stage in New York, where he said overcoming James and the Cavs again wouldn’t have been possible without Durant despite debates over his legacy with the Warriors. 

“... I think for us, within the organization, we did everything we could to make Kevin comfortable,” Green told Redick and Alter. “We did everything we could to let him know, ‘Just like this is our home, this is your home, too, brother.’ But the outside world didn’t. The outside world [is saying], ‘He’s joining a team that won 73 games, he’s joining the team that already won a championship’ and blah, blah, blah.

“But the reality is, I don’t think that team wins another championship if Kevin doesn’t come … We would not have beat the Cavs coming back around without Kevin.”

 

Green said that following their back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 2015 and 2016, teams had solved the Warriors puzzle. Not only that, he added, but Steph Curry hadn’t grown yet into the player he is today.

“Teams had figured us out, and I personally don’t think at that point Steph Curry had figured out, ‘I’m going to get a bucket whenever I want to,’” Green said. “I don’t think he was capable of that yet. I think he was still growing into that.”

In figuring out Golden State’s offense, teams began to double-team Curry more, Green said. That’s where Durant stepped in.

“... The reality is, we got to a point where we needed to be able to give someone the ball that can just go get a bucket,” Green continued. “And Kevin was already there. I don’t think Steph was there yet. So it gets us through those two years. We get those two championships.”

So what’s different now? Curry was in the weight room getting stronger from 2019 on, Green said, allowing him to become that player who can score whenever he wants. In the absence of Durant, it proved pivotal.

Fast forward to 2022, and the two-time NBA MVP, who Green described as the “strongest dude” on the Warriors “to this day,” is now capable of driving past a 6-foot-9, 240-pound Al Horford to the rim in the Finals.

“That allowed [Curry] to score whenever he wanted, because you can no longer bump him off his path,” Green said. “... That’s where Steph turned the corner and he became unstoppable. And now we’re able to continue winning championships because he’s unstoppable.”

RELATED: KD reacts to Draymond's mockery of his Game 1 tweet from Finals

Curry didn't appear to take Green's comments that the Warriors needed Durant to win two of their last four championships personally, celebrating the accomplishments of his longtime teammate with a post to his Instagram story on Tuesday -- the 10th anniversary of the day Green was drafted by Golden State.

Curry can now add a Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy to his collection as a pillar of his legacy, and Durant’s own stands on two feet in the Bay according to Green.

But as questions about which Finals victory means the most to the Warriors continue to circulate, the 32-year-old made it clear there’s only one dynasty that isn’t stopping yet.

“... I think you started to see it then, that growth and like, ‘Oh man, nobody can stop this dude [Curry] now,” Green said. “And I think that really changed the complexity of our organization. And I’m pretty certain that’s why we’ll win three of the next four NBA championships."

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