The Effective Stack

kevindurant

There’s a contingent of online NBA 2K16 players who believe that playing with the Golden St. Warriors in an online ranked match is unfair. To be honest, I love the online ranked-match system that rewards a player for beating an opponent while using an inferior team (game theory hint: the Portland Trailblazers have somehow been a tier three team all season despite making the playoffs as a five seed in the West, plus they have one of the most unstoppable players in the virtual landscape in Damian Lillard).

That said, if you lose too many games, you either have to start your progress in your given league all over again, or if you’re really bad, you become relegated to the league below. For instance, you progressed from “College” to “NBA”, but you lost your first two games in the NBA? Relegated back to College. Talk about utterly frustrating.

But I’ll tell you this: if I have to choose between being relegated and starting a league all over and being called cheap because I played with the Dubs… welp…

But here’s the moral of the story: when I need a win, I don’t care what anyone says. I want to put myself in the best position in order to not be relegated. I want to protect my status as someone in a good league. I put that in jeopardy by playing with an inferior team, right? Can I beat the Cleveland Cavaliers with the Phoenix Suns? Sure, if Eric Bledsoe Bledsoes (AKA he’s able to penetrate and dunk over everybody while hitting enough jumpers to keep defenses honest) and Brandon Knight doesn’t Brandon Knight (AKA doesn’t have brain farts/miss clutch shots/fall on his ass because of Kyrie Irving).

Can I beat the Cleveland Cavaliers with Golden St.?

At least 80% of the time, especially considering the Warriors have been my favorite 2K team to play with for the past five seasons… not my fault they got really good.

I bring all of this up because this is more or less the same conundrum superstar free agent Kevin Durant faces this summer.

On the one hand, I truly believe Durant is great enough to be the best player on a championship team. Had the Thunder not found a way to blow a 3–1 lead against the Warriors, that statement wouldn’t have just been an opinion: more than likely, it would have came true. Instead, it’s a hypothetical statement… one that many pundits agree with, but a hypothetical statement nonetheless.

But if he’s genuinely making a “basketball decision” and not an “ego-feeding” decision, the Warriors really would be the best place for him to go.

So why the backlash if he chooses them over Oklahoma City, right? I get it: there’s something to be said for winning a title when you’re the man, and based on what happened this postseason, the Thunder aren’t that far away. Factor in their haul from the Orlando Magic on draft night (an All-American steal if Domantas Sabonis is any kind of player, because Ersan Ilyasova is probably an upgrade from a perimeter-shooting standpoint and Victor Oladipo is a very good two-way guard), and theoretically OKC will be better next season.

But how tempting is Golden St. though? With KD, will they win 74+? Probably not, because I’m sure next time around there will be less of an onus on the regular season. But there’s no denying that on paper the Warriors would be riDICulous with a capital “DIC”. Obviously, they would let Harrison Barnes walk (to which a large segment of Dubs’ fans would say, “good riddance.”), but how illegal would a re-tooled “Death-Ball” line-up of Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompsonand Stephen Curry (almost made it an entire post without saying his name) be? And, for those of you saying that adding Durant would be too many cooks in one kitchen, keep in mind that he does the majority of his damage in catch-and-shoot/quick drive situations. Unlike his bestie Russell Westbrook, he’s not a ball-stopper. Take away the name and think about the skill-set: KD is more or less the perfect Warrior. Durant and Golden St. are a match made in hoops heaven.

That said…

I think Durant is sensitive to the talk around him. While he says he wants to do the right thing for him, I think he’s such a good dude that he’ll ultimately end up doing what he thinks people think is the right thing for him to do. He’s seen firsthand how the media killed LeBron James for leaving, and you may say, “It’s different because that was ‘Bron’s hometown,” but really it isn’t. Oklahoma City is where Durant has cemented his legacy. I can’t remember if I’ve typed this in cyberspace, but I’ve said it to friends and basketball fans alike in conversation: unless it comes out that Durant absolutely hates Westbrook and doesn’t think they can co-exist (which probably would have come out by now), he’s staying. Golden St. is the only other destination that makes sense because it’s literally the only other place he can go to team up with one of the top five players in the NBA (as I wrotelast time out, nothing has changed)… and while hypothetically the two of them on the same team would be bananas, he already knows what he and Westbrook can do.

I think he stays. I think he tries to build upon what the Thunder were almost able to do this season. But should we kill him for wanting to leave for what he thinks are greener pastures?

We would… but we shouldn’t. Not if winning is the most important thing.

(Note: sorry for all of my poker buddies who thought this may have been the dawning of a poker post because of the title. I’m flighty and misleading like that.)

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