Without Durant, Warriors Have to Unify in Ways They Haven't Quite Managed

Draymond Green knows he's up, that he'll have to bring his usual fire and grit, but is going to need to contribute a few points.

Klay Thompson knows he's up, too. He'll probably get more shots than ever, but he'll need to boost that percentage a bit.

Stephen Curry, the reigning MVP, already knows what he has to do. It's that time.

Matt Barnes, know your role. Do what you do as best you can while acknowledging you have no earthly chance of replicating Kevin Durant's presence and production.

Though it's not likely the Warriors will thrive without Durant, who conceivably could miss the remainder of the regular season, or more, this team is strong enough to endure a stretch without him even though he has been its best player.

"Nobody's going to have much empathy for us, which I understand," general manager Bob Myers said Wednesday morning via conference call. "It's professional sports. These things happen.

"I think our players genuinely care about each other. I think they'll come together and potentially bond even stronger when something like this happens. I know that nobody on the team is happy right now, because they care for Kevin and they want to see him on the court."

Meanwhile, it's up to the three aforementioned All-Stars and the depth for which the Warriors have been noted. Wishing Harrison Barnes were still in uniform is an exercise in pointlessness.

Who starts? Probably Barnes, who, like Durant, is a natural at small forward. Barnes made 13 starts in 54 games for the Kings before being released last week. He's almost 37, though, so he can't be expected to log heavy minutes.

That means more time for Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston and Pat McCaw. There also will be more minutes for David West and for James Michael McAdoo.

It's conceivable that coach Steve Kerr and his staff, with a roster heavy on centers/power forwards, will be forced to go big more than they would like. It's patch-up time, and that means all options must be on the table.

"That's where the character of the players and coaches come into play," Kerr said. "Every team has adversity, though it may not seem like we've had much. "

The goal of achieving the No. 1 overall seed remains in play, but it's a much steeper mountain to climb. The Spurs are breathing down their proverbial necks, four games back in the Western Conference. And the Warriors still have two trips to San Antonio on the schedule.

During a national radio interview in January, I was asked which of the Warriors' four All-Stars could the team best absorb the loss of. My answer: Durant.

He was having the best season of anyone on the team. He was its most efficient and productive player.

But the Warriors have won it all without Durant. Sure, they had Barnes and he was significant. That 2015 title team was tight, together and wholly familiar with each other after two full seasons together.

The current Warriors have been together for 60 games. They're still growing, and Durant was growing with them.

These Warriors suddenly have to unify in ways they haven't quite managed. And they have to do it over the remaining six weeks of the regular season, while keeping the current roster healthy.

"We'll do our best with the options available to keep the roster in the best shape we can," Myers said. "No roster is perfect. Every team deals with injuries.

"As we move forward from today on, through the playoffs, we hope we stay healthy. In the event that we don't, we'll explore the best options that give us the best chance to win. It's hard to say what that ends up looking like. But the goal would be to just stay healthy."

Copyright CSNBY - CSN BAY
Contact Us