Kevin Durant’s All-Star Weekend Performance Won’t Stop Free Agency Noise

    Kevin Durant was the talk of Charlotte during All-Star weekend. The forward tallied 31 points and seven rebounds to lead Team LeBron past Team Giannis

    February 19, 2019

    Kevin Durant was the talk of Charlotte during All-Star weekend.

    The forward tallied 31 points and seven rebounds to lead Team LeBron past Team Giannis 178-164 in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, winning the MVP trophy in the process. The 30-year old showed why he will be the most coveted free agent this upcoming summer.

    Since before the start of this season, Durant’s future with Golden State has been in question, culminating with his Warriors teammate Draymond Green confronting him about the handling of his future plans, which resulted in a suspension for Green.

    Durant himself even spoke out about the widespread speculation regarding his impending free agency, lashing out during one of his recent media appearances. And all this comes with the rumor that Durant is looking to join a team outside the Bay Area this offseason, specifically the Knicks.

    [RELATED: Can Knicks Land Durant-Irving Duo?]

    Despite being a two-time NBA Finals MVP, Durant is largely looked at as the second fiddle in Golden State behind Stephen Curry, which is why he’ll never get the recognition that he desires as an athlete and a competitor.

    “I’ve been second my whole life,” Durant told Sports Illustrated in a 2013 interview. “I was the second-best player in high school. I was the second pick in the draft. I’ve been second in the MVP voting three times. I came in second in the Finals. I’m tired of being second. I’m not going to settle for that. I’m done with it.”

    That being said, this season might be the first time in his tenure with the Warriors in which Durant has been more impactful than Curry.

    Player Net On/Off Rating (via Basketball-Reference) 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 (through Feb. 19)
    Stephen Curry +17.5 +13.0 +12.1
    Kevin Durant +8.2 +1.4 +18.4

     

    While Curry was sidelined for 11 games earlier this season — slightly elevating Durant’s numbers — the shift this year is still undeniable. Durant’s even taken a serious leap in efficiency, something we rarely see from a superstar player.

    Kevin Durant’s Splits True Shooting % Effective Field Goal % Assist % Offensive Rating Win Shares Per 48 minutes
    Seattle/Oklahoma City (9 Seasons) 60.5 53.0 17.9 116 .214
    Golden State (3 seasons, through Feb. 19) 64.0 58.2 24.9 121 .234

     

    Improvement on the margins hasn’t resulted in many individual accolades for Durant outside of his Finals success. He finished in ninth and seventh place in NBA MVP voting in 2017 and ’18, respectively, and is likely behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden in this year’s race. Those voting for the award seem to believe that Durant has lost his individual brilliance by joining one of the greatest teams of all time.

    But a third NBA Finals MVP Award would put Durant in a new realm among the Association’s all-time greats.

    He’d join Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, LeBron James and Magic Johnson as the only players to win at least three Finals MVP awards. Would his Hall of Fame supporting cast diminish that mark as well?

    That’s up for discussion.

    But what you can’t debate is that Durant will instantly turn whichever franchise he signs with into one of the hottest teams in the entire NBA.

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