In light of the on-court squabble between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, Paul Centopani and Jonathan Macri discuss who the Golden State Warriors would be better off keeping going forward.
Paul Centopani (@pcentopani): Let me start off by stating the obvious; having either of these guys on your team is a major boon for a franchise. Having said that, there’s one correct answer to this question and that answer is Kevin Durant, you know, the reigning Finals MVP.
Jonathan Macri (@jcmacrinba): You know what’s fun, Paul? Taking the contrarian point of view. You know what’s even more fun? Being right. Thankfully, in saying that the Warriors should keep Draymond Green over your pithy MVP, I get to be both.
Why, you ask, could it possibly be a better decision to keep a guy averaging 7.5 points and hitting fewer 3s than Chris Davis hits baseballs over the second-greatest scorer alive? Because more than KD ever could be, Draymond Green is the Warriors.
We’ve seen them win without Durant. We’ve never seen them do anything without Green, and there’s a reason for that. Smart fans know Golden State wins with defense, and Dray is their Lawrence Taylor. (I tried to work a hockey reference in here too, but that would require me knowing something about hockey) Come at me, Paul.
Centopani: Wow, just missed hitting for the sports analogy cycle there. While we may normally see most things eye-to-eye, right now we are enemies. I’m always a fan of playing devil’s avocado, but let’s not get crazy.
No doubt that Green entering the starting lineup for an injured David Lee is one of the pillars the Golden State dynasty is built on. I’m not even gonna argue against Green being more imperative to their defensive success than Durant because that’s clear. But the “KD isn’t a good defender” narrative is a lagging perception and was never all that true to begin with.
Green’s a do-it-all Swiss Army knife and one of the better players of this era, who specifically flourishes in the contemporary. Durant is a flamethrower and a GEN-ER-ATION-AL talent, who will be among the greatest of all time when it’s said and done.
Macri: Woah, Paul…woah. You went full afternoon drive-time, talking head guy on me there for a second. Let me ground us a little.
I know Kevin Durant is gen-er-ation-al (sorry, my Caps Lock is broken), but you know who else knows that Kevin Durant is generational? Kevin Durant. He was never meant to play the beautiful brand of basketball that Steph’s Warriors perfected because he has otherworldly individual talents…and he knows it.
Last year, Golden State almost lost to Houston because they allowed themselves to devolve into an isolation team at Durant’s behest, and they were a Chris Paul bum hip away from taking the crown as the biggest pro sports flop of all time. As LeBron would say, KD’s too busy worrying about fitting out to fit in.
Draymond? Alongside Curry, he was the linchpin of that Rockets series, posting a 7.9 net rating to Durant’s 5.9. When Durant was off the court in that Conference Finals, bee tee dubs, Golden State outscored the Rockets by 19.8 points per 100 possessions.
Obviously, Durant is amazing, but as NBA history has shown us again and again, fit comes first. The longer KD remains in the Bay area, the more he’ll want to get his, and that means diminishing returns for the whole. What say you, good sir?
Centopani: Sorry I’m not sorry. Just know I can’t protect you if and when the KD burner accounts come looking for blood.
See, you’re gauging the past when I’m eyeing the future.
Durant’s already 30-years-old and moves with that lanky wraith flow. He looks like he’ll be playing at a high level when he’s 50. Green is mid-key thicc and conditioning has always been a question with him. What happens when he crosses to the other side of the 30 hill? Metabolism, athletic ability, and recovery don’t just keep churning at the same level forever. I’m 31. I rolled my ankle last month and it fully healed two years from now.
I don’t think the real issue with their spat was just the one play and whether Draymond should have passed the ball. I feel like it was gurgling below the surface, dwelling in the undertow, and that play made it bubble over. Maybe playing with Draymond gets old after a while and his commandeering style wears on guys?
Macri: I knew the risks of taking this side before making my choice. I am at peace with it and will take whatever Twitter consequences come my way.
Look, I get it…are Dray’s days (see what I did there) as the best defender in the league coming to an end? Probably. But he’s so smart that he’ll figure out how to be close to All-League on that end well into his next contract. He’s also the emotional heart and chip on the shoulder of the Warriors, and as we’ve seen throughout NBA history, dynasties need that chip to keep competing.
Above all, that’s why they need to keep him. They have Steph and Klay for the offense. Will some bargain basement 3-and-D guy can make up for even half of what KD does? Of course not. But will such a dude make up for what 85-90 percent of what this team needs from that spot? I think so.
Finally, my ace in the hole: if we’re saying they can only keep one, that means they get to trade the other guy. Who’s getting more in a midseason trade than Kevin Durant? I rest my case.
Centopani: That’s fine, he’s gonna be on the Knicks next year anyway. 🐍🐍🐍