Kevin Durant will make his triumphant return to the Warriors’ lineup on Saturday against the Pelicans, giving Golden State yet another weapon on both ends of the court. The Warriors, however, have won 13 straight games without Durant and haven’t lost since March 11 against the Spurs.
On Friday’s episode of "Undisputed," Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe debated whether Durant’s return will actually help Golden State.
Derick E. HingleDerick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Durant will make them better defensively
“It’s hard for me to believe that a former MVP All-NBA player could hurt a team that’s won 13 games. No KD, no jewelry. If Klay and Steph struggle, you know KD can go get 30 or 40 if he needs to. They’re even better defensively when he’s on the floor. The dude is 6-11, 7-6 wingspan. He blocks more shots. He became more defensive-oriented since he got to Golden State. If you pair him with Draymond, and they’re even better defensively.
"Let’s take Tom Brady. The Patriots were 3-1 without Tom Brady. Nobody worried about how they’d be when he got back because he took them to another level. I will agree, in this 13-game winning streak, there have been spurts where Golden State looked better without KD than with KD.”
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Steve Kerr is making the right call
“I think Steve Kerr is doing it right. The medical staff said he’s ready to go. Three games to play, get his conditioning. Because that’s the hardest thing to do. When you miss time in the regular season – I’ve been injured and missed time – all that treadmill, jogging underwater, the elliptical. That’s all good, but there’s nothing like me running up and down the football field. It’ll give him a chance to get his legs back under him. It’ll give him a chance to get his conditioning back under him. It’ll also give them three games to play with him to get him reintegrated back into the system.”
Durant will hurt the Warriors down the road
"I agree with every point you just made, except for your conclusion. … I believe he will hurt them in the long haul. I just watched this team win 13 straight games with no Kevin Durant. And I just watched Steph Curry turn back into MVP Steph Curry. He was that guy. Over these last 13 games, he has shot 47 percent from the 3-point line. That is unbeatably invincible. You can’t stop that. You can’t defeat that."
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The Warriors had a number of bad losses
“Obviously they lost on opening night to the Spurs by 29. With Kevin, that was his first night out – who knows? Then they go to the Lakers and they lose by 20. Then December 1, they go to double-OT and lose to Houston. That was sort of the emergence of James Harden. Then they go to Memphis and lose by 21 on December 10. They’re still trying to figure it out. December 25 they cost me a case because they’re up 14 in the fourth quarter and they can’t figure out how to get that home at Cleveland. January 6, they blow a 24-point home lead to Memphis again, and they lose by nine in overtime."
Golden State without KD was playing better than it was last season
"To me, they were looking better the last 13 games than they even looked last year when they won a record 73 games. They looked even better than they looked last year, and it rocked me to my soul because I said, ‘I don’t know if [the Spurs] can beat that team when it matters in a seven-game series. … Will he ever get quite right? Will he be a little limpy on his knee? Will it be a little tender? I’m not wishing that on him, I’m just saying it could be.”
The Warriors will need Durant at some point
“If I’m KD, I go to Steve Kerr and go to the team and say, ‘Do you. I’ll figure this out. I’ll get my way back into this thing. Do not do anything to try to get me involved. I can figure this out. I’m a former MVP. I’m a 28-point-a-game scorer. I can get my shots.’
“There’s going to be a time when they need Kevin Durant. Steph is playing unbelievable. He has his swagger back, he’s laughing, he’s having a great time. He’s shooting 47 percent from three, and if he’s shooting 47 percent, Klay’s gotta be shooting 60 [percent].”