The Golden State Warriors pulled off the unthinkable and landed Kevin Durant this summer, but what can every team learn from them?
Kevin Durant took the entire holiday weekend meeting with six different teams vying for his services, but only one team could come out on top. And that was the Golden State Warriors.
Coming off a 73-win season that resulted in the team being one win away from back-to-back championships, Golden State had built a team that was destined to be a dynasty in the league for many years to come.
From the small ball lineups to the record-setting outside shooting, Golden State completed their task in winning the most regular season games in NBA history. So how does the team get better over the offseason?
They add Kevin Durant.
And the hate begins.
Comments from everyone around the country began to roll in saying that it’s unfair for the league, Kevin Durant is chasing “cheap jewelry” and that a new bargaining agreement needs to happen to prevent “super teams” like this from ever happening.
How you view Kevin Durant joining an already stacked team is one thing, but hating the Golden State Warriors is a completely different subject.
Instead of hate, how about respect?
So what can other teams around the league learn from the formation of this “super team”?
Draft well and develop better.
Back in 2009, Stephen Curry was a scrawny kid coming out of Davidson where he was known purely for his shooting stroke. He was too small for a shooting guard but didn’t have the ball handling or passing skills to be a point guard. He was a tweener.
Then he comes into the league only to be hobbled with ankle injuries that even sidelined him for almost 60 games during his third year in the league.
But Golden State took the chance on the kid by drafting him 7th overall and signing him to a long-term contract before he reached his current level of play.
Back in 2011, Klay Thompson was coming out of Washington State known as the son of Mychel Thompson. He averaged 21 points a game during his junior season and entered the draft as a great shooting prospect.
Then it was decision time when Golden State reportedly had an offer on the table from Minnesota to trade Thompson for Kevin Love before he was eventually dealt to Cleveland.
But Golden State, after taking the chance and drafting him 11th overall, turned down the trade offer and elected to keep the backcourt together with Curry.
A year later in 2012, a four-year forward out of Michigan State found himself falling down the draft boards as people questioned his talent and future position in the NBA.
His name was obviously Draymond Green.
Golden State took the chance and drafted Green in the second round with the 35th pick in the draft. Little did they know of the player he would become.
Now, four years after having all three players together, Golden State has arguably three of the top 20 players in the NBA on their team….and they drafted and developed all three of them.
They didn’t form their “big three” via trade nor did they form their star core in the free agent market, they organically built a “big three” through precise planning and execution of their front office.
In doing this, Golden State had the inside track on each player as they hit free agency after their rookie contract and signed each player to long-term deals that would be favorable in the future cap spike.
Now the cap spike has happened and the loaded Warriors have room for a max contract because of the chances, risks, and commitment they had previously put in grooming their “big three.” Now, the prize for forming this masterpiece of a team, is none other than Kevin Durant.
So before you try to “hate” the Warriors, try respecting them for the decisions they made surrounding drafting and developing Curry, Thompson and Green.
It is a reminder to all teams in the league, including the Dallas Mavericks, that draft picks matter. That drafting a player is one thing, but developing a player to be an impactful player in the league is another.
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The Warriors “big three” prior to Durant had injuries, position limitations and questions surrounding their body frames…oh, and neither of them were drafted in the top 6 in their respectable drafts. But through the development that led to their rise, they positioned themselves to be the end prize for Kevin Durant.
Draft picks matter. Development and opportunity for young players matter. The D-League matters. The Summer League matters.
Sometimes it’s not all about the glamorous trade or targeting the “big fish” in free agency. Sometimes it’s about drafting and building quality talent from within.
Golden State should be the poster child for every team across the league to value their draft picks and develop their young talent, you never know the team you could form and the eventual free agent you could lure to your city as a result of it.