Three logical landing spots for Kevin Durant

Now that the 2015-2016 season has come to a close, one thing is on everyone’s mind; where is Kevin Durant going to play going forward? Well we’re here to speculate on three landing spots for the “Slim Reaper.”

 

3) Boston Celtics

Now look, Durant and his camp haven’t ruled out any teams so everyone that can make a play at him financially likely will. So after many discussions with teams across the league, we believe there will only be three teams remaining, one being the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics are an extremely promising young team with a Head Coach that has never had a poor word spoken about him, dating all the way back to his time at the University of Butler. The one thing they are lacking is star power. Isaiah Thomas is the closest thing to a star, but he’s only made one all-star team roster. That said, a large portion of their 48-win team will still be intact next season. Only three of their free agents had a real big impact on this past season’s team and both are restricted (Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller) and Boston will likely be able to match any contract offers made. Evan Turner is the third player but I’m fairly certain most people would consider getting Kevin Durant an upgrade over Turner.

The one thing the Celtics have a lot of is draft picks. The acquired the Nets’ next three first-round draft picks a couple of years back, as well as getting one from Dallas from trading Rajon Rondo and also having picks of their own. If Durant’s had specific stipulations about coming to Boston and one was trading their picks to acquire championship-ready talent, I’m nearly 100-percent sure the Celtics would oblige.

Now if they did acquire Durant, it’s likely they begin playing a lot of small ball. They’d still be able to slow the pace down and play big, especially if they resign Sullinger. That said, it would be on Durant if he would move down and play more power-forward.

The Celtics are a superstar away from being serious contenders in LeBron James’ conference. We’d call it the east but he’s owned it for six consecutive seasons so what’s the point? Does Durant think a Celtics team with him heading the roster can beat the Cavaliers and win championships? We think it’s more than plausible to think that he does.

 

2) Golden State Warriors

We understand many of you are wondering…WHAT? But hear us out. What does Durant seemingly want more than anything? A championship. Where have the Warriors made it too the past two seasons? The NBA Finals. The two are a perfect match.

If the Warriors want to make a serious push at Durant, they will be able to financially. The Warriors payroll was north of $93M this past season. If they resign nobody, including restricted free agents Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, they’ll have close to $20M available in spending money. The salary cap is also rising, likely giving the Warriors a few couple of million to play with.

Strategically, the Warriors would have zero problems sliding Durant into the then departed Harrison Barnes’ role. The Warriors already have the league’s best offense and that’s before he ever put on their jersey and Durant would take them to a whole new level. Adding him and subtracting Barnes in the Dubs “death lineup” would be virtually unstoppable. Although we haven’t seen Durant play in an offense quite like this, we’re sure one of the three best players on the planet would drastically lower his isolation percentage for consistently great looks at the rim.

We personally believe the Warriors are the favorites heading into the 2016-’17 season without Durant, but if they acquired him, there would be no way around it. Yes he would still be in the daunted Western Conference, but he’d have so much help surrounding him, he’d be silly to not strongly consider this franchise as a candidate.

 

1) Oklahoma City Thunder

Yeah, yeah, how original. But out of all 30 teams in the NBA, resigning with the Thunder makes the most sense for Kevin Durant. At least for the 2016-’17 season, that is. Beyond that is really anyone’s guess.

The Thunder has virtually everyone from this year’s Western Conference Finals team coming back under contract. If Durant resigns, it’s likely the team won’t make any big time moves because of their limited amount of income left over.

Look, the Thunder might only have one more crack at it. Not only is Durant a free agent this year, Russell Westbrook becomes a free agent after the 2017-’18 season. If Durant signs a one-year deal, they’ll have another chance at getting back to the Western Conference Finals and this time, beating whoever’s in their way. It’ll be the second-year with Head Coach Billy Donovan and the players will begin to trust his methods a lot more.

The Thunder were one measly game away from this years NBA finals before collapsing against the Warriors. If Durant feels like next year will be different, he’ll resign without much hesitation. We should expect Durant to wreak havoc for the Thunder for at least one more season.

Facets Franchise Five

Everyone pretends they’re a general-manager sometimes. When we do, we think about who we would want to start our franchise with. Lucky for you, we wrote about who are five current players would be if we were starting a franchise today.

 

1. LeBron James

Surprise to probably nobody, LeBron James checks in at number one on our list. It’s hard to pick against the most polarizing athlete in all of sports. I mean seriously, the guy just signed a LIFETIME contract with Nike for $30M per year. Looking past the numbers he puts up, what he does off the court, and what he does for the franchises he plays for financially is one of a kind.

Now, back to the on-court stuff. James has been the fastest to accomplish basically everything that is everything to do with basketball. At 30, James has plenty of elite basketball ahead of him. James has always gotten the best out of his supporting casts, something he’s better at than anyone in the league, maybe ever. Just this season, the season people are saying LeBron is “slowing down”, James is sixth in scoring, second among small-forwards in rebounding, and 11th in assists. None of those ranking suggest James has taken a single step back.

James is the oldest one on my list and is the most worn down, but he’s still who I’m building my franchise around. Another five elite years of LeBron James is better than five elite years of any current player in the NBA.

 

2. Stephen Curry

What more can be said about last year’s league MVP that hasn’t been said these past two years. Best shooter in the league? Best shooter on the planet? Best shooter we’ve ever seen? My vote is for all of the above.

Curry is currently leaving everyone in the dust in this year’s Most Valuable Player award race. Leading the NBA in scoring and leading his team to a 22-0 start is just the start of Curry’s resume. He’s shooting a career-high 53-percent on a career-high 20 shots per game. 11 of those shots are coming from three where he’s shooting a career-best 47-percent.

Curry is second in offensive rating, first in offensive win shares, first in win shares, first in plus-minus and the list goes on and on. He’s continuously gotten better year in, year out, on both sides of the ball. We don’t talk about the strides he’s taken as defender enough because of how tantalizing he can be offensively.

Like Durant, Curry is 27. He’s in the midst of his prime and building my team around a point-guard is something I prefer. Curry is an iron-man and has only missed 12 games over the last four-plus seasons. Everything he touches seems to turn golden..I’ll show myself out.

 

3. Anthony Davis

I was torn on whether or not I’d take Davis or Durant third, but the brow edged it out. Davis is just 22-years young and is already one of the game’s elite. The thing that separates he and Durant is Davis’ ability to dominate games without dominating the ball. He was only 13th in usage percentage (27-percent) last season and still managed to score 24.4 points per game. Durant averages 30-percent usage over his entire career.

Davis’ ability to take over games isn’t just on the offensive side of the ball. He’s one of the best rim protectors in all of the NBA. Davis led the entire association in blocks per game the past two seasons. If it wasn’t for Hassan Whiteside’s insane start to 2015-’16, he’d be in the hunt for a third.

When Davis develops more of a post-game, he’ll be virtually unstoppable. He’ll be able to control games with the ball, off the ball, and on the defensive end. He’s already expanded his offensive repertoire to the three-point line where’s he’s knocked down 37-percent of his three’s.

 

4. Kevin Durant

I still believe that Kevin Durant is the world’s best scorer, even though a lot of people believe Stephen Curry has taken those reigns. We’ve never seen a player at Durant’s size do what he does. A seven-footer that can handle the ball like a point-guard and stop on a dime and shoot from 30 is extremely rare.

Durant is still just 27-years old, so age is not a concern. His growth on defense is something worth noting and something that isn’t talked about enough. This seems to become a trend with players that are elite scorers.

2015-’16 has been good to KD. He’s averaging a career-high 51.6-percent from the field, while knocking down 43.7-percent of his three’s, and 88.2-percent of his free-throw’s. He’s already notched a 50-40-90 season under his belt and he might need to loosen it again because he’s well in reach of recording another.

Durant’s foot issue from last season is seemingly long gone and shouldn’t be of any concern. The Slim Reaper is back and looks as good as ever. He’s one day going to retire as one of the all-time greats, hopefully with a ring or three.

 

5. Kawhi Leonard

With an already impressive resume for never being ‘the man’, Leonard checks in at number five. Some may think it’s a stretch, but I only think it’s up from here.

When entering the league, Leonard was known solely for his incredible defensive abilities but boy has his game blossomed. Leonard is averaging 21.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.9 steals per game on 50-percent shooting, 50-percent from three, and 86-percent from the charity stripe.

Not only has he turned into an offensive star, but he’s still that lock-down defender he was coming out of college. The reigning defensive player of the year is currently third in defensive rating and second in defensive win shares.

In my opinion, Leonard is the best two-way player in the game. Still only 24, he’s improved with every passing year. He’s finally become the number one option in San Antonio and has become the face of their franchise.

Honorable Mention: Blake Griffin

Player(s) of the Night: DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant

February here in New York is brutally cold but Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan were the polar opposite of cold tonight. Both had jaw-dropping evenings.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Clippers

Let’s start with DeAndre. The struggling Clippers went into a pivotal conference match-up against the Mavericks and came out with a dominating victory. Mainly because of DeAndre Jordan’s insane 22 point, 27 rebound night. He also chipped in 3 blocks, continuing to help his Defensive Player of the Year case. Out of the 27 rebounds, a crazy 11 were on the offensive end, which was only 1 less rebound than Dallas’ leader Chandler Parsons who had 12 total. DeAndre hasn’t missed a game in 3 seasons and continues to play great for the Clips. He even hit 6 of 9 free throws, which is amazing for the big fella who shoots 39.6%

1 KD

Kevin Durant is not human and he reminded us just that versus the Nuggets. He got scorching hot during the second quarter hitting four 3’s and continued to dominate in the second half. He ended with 40 points on 13-19 shooting, including seven 3’s which is a new career high for the Slim Reaper. KD’s been in and out of the lineup all year with injuries, but not many players in the league can be rusty and still score 40 points on 19 shots only. The Thunder are now 16-9 with KD in the lineup, 11-16 without. Kevin Durant is back and ready to get the Thunder into the playoffs. Would OKC not be the scariest 8 seed ever?