Durant’s Warriors signing drastically altered the power balance in the league. No one could beat a healthy Golden State team because it had three of the greatest shooters ever in Durant, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson, and one of the best defenders of this generation, Draymond Green.
However, would the Warriors have still beaten the Cavs in the 2017 and 2018 Finals had Durant never joined them? Green recently gave us the answer we have known all along.
Draymond Green shared the brutally honest truth about the Warriors
The Warriors won their first title in 2015 after beating a LeBron James-led Cavs team without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. They then went on to win 73 games in 2016, but a healthy Cavaliers squad rallied from a 3-1 deficit and beat them in that year’s Finals.
The story goes that Draymond Green went to his car after that Game 7 loss and called Kevin Durant, crying from the parking lot. That doesn’t seem to be totally accurate (Green and Durant discussed their text exchange last year), but KD ended up going to Golden State, and the Warriors went to three more Finals, beating the Cavs in the next two before losing to the Toronto Raptors in 2019.
KD’s decision to join the Warriors certainly helped them win two of their titles, but would they have still won without him? Green doesn’t think that’s the case.
“I don’t think the outside world gave Kevin enough credit,” Green recently said on a collab episode of his podcast, The Draymond Green Show, and JJ Redick’s, The Old Man and the Three. “I think if you came within our organization, Kevin was given all the credit. But the reality is, I don’t think that team wins another championship if Kevin doesn’t come.”
Redick asked him if Golden State would have beaten the Houston Rockets without Durant in those playoff runs, and Green replied, “yeah, we was beating them for sure. That team was never going to beat us.”
LeBron and the Cavs, on the other hand, were a different story.
“We would not have beat the Cavs coming back around without Kevin,” he said.
Green is right. The Warriors were excellent and played together during those first two seasons, but the Cavs were simply more talented. James is arguably the best player of all time, and Golden State had no answer for him defensively in any of the four years the teams faced off in the Finals. He and Kyrie Irving had also figured out how to play together and were impossible to defend whenever they were clicking, especially if Kevin Love was hitting his shots from beyond the arc.
Players like J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson became excellent defenders during those years. And, as Green alluded to in the podcast, they had figured out how to slow down the Durant-less Warriors’ offense.
Many believe the Cavs would have won the 2015 title had Love and Irving been healthy. That’s likely true. And they would have probably continued winning championships had Durant never signed with the Warriors.
LeBron and Kyrie’s Cavaliers were just too darn talented, and Green knows it. The league would have been drastically different had KD never taken his talents to the Bay.