How Kevin Durant ruins the strategy to stop the Warriors

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors were the best regular-season team in NBA history last year for a reason. They pushed the boundaries of what was possible offensively, stretching defense with movement, shooting, space, and unselfish team play until they snapped like rubber bands.

All season, teams drew up battle plans to stop the Warriors. All season, they failed.

That is, until the playoffs. Aided by Stephen Curry's knee injury, the Thunder and Cavaliers stumbled on a switch-everything philosophy aided by a key matchup inversion. Rather than having their superstar wing players guard their position, the Thunder and Cavaliers put Kevin Durant and LeBron James on Draymond Green. That neutered the Warriors' best play and made it easier for the other five players to stop the Warriors' off-ball movement and force them to go one-on-one.

But that won't fly this year. Switching their best wing defender to Green left a big man on Harrison Barnes, a matchup the Thunder and Cavaliers could live with if they must. Barnes couldn't beat even slower defenders off the dribble and became an invisible man even with a matchup he should have dominated. If he could have made the Thunder and Cavaliers pay, the strategy falls apart. He couldn't.

You know who could? Kevin Durant himself. Now that the Warriors have Durant, the matchup switch that stifled the Warriors in the playoffs no longer applies. Nobody would dare try to hide a big man on Durant, and nobody would feel good about switching off Durant like they once switched off Green.

In this video, we'll explain how Durant's mere presence has a domino effect that ruins the best strategy the league found to stop the powerful Warriors offense. Just months after finally coming close to a breakthrough, the rest of the NBA must go back to the drawing board.