In the 2016 NBA Playoffs, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the 73-9 Golden State Warriors i seven games in the Western Conference Finals. This comes after the Thunder gave the Warriors a run for their money previously leading the series three games to one.
In the offseason, Durant was an unrestricted free agent and for the first time in his then nine-year career it was a possibility that he would not be a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder any longer. Fans and media speculated on who Durant would join in the offseason.
On July 4, 2016, it was time for Kevin Durant made his official decision and it was a shocking one to say the least. It was announced that Kevin Durant would be signing with the…Golden State Warriors!
The same Golden State Warriors who were the reigning Western Conference champions, the team that beat him and the Oklahoma City Thunder to make the NBA Finals, the team fresh off winning an NBA record 73 games in the regular season and the team led by the reigning two-time league MVP Stephen Curry.
This decision sent the sports world into a frenzy with NBA players themselves taking to social media sharing their reactions to the shocking news:
Sooooo KD really going to the Warriors😂 sick change of events
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) July 4, 2016
Russ about to avg a triple double with 30 😂😂
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) July 4, 2016
Thats crazy!!!! KD in GSW???? …. R they gonna score 200 points a game😂😂
— Marcin Gortat🇵🇱 (@MGortat) July 4, 2016
— Evan Fournier (@EvanFourmizz) July 4, 2016
— Troy Daniels (@troydaniels) July 4, 2016
Along with the Golden State Warriors, the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder were among the teams that were contenders to sign Durant. One of the teams Durant that was not considered in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes…the Washington Wizards.
Kevin Durant said this to the Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps and Adam Kilgore about why he did not consider playing for the Washington Wizards,
I don’t want to open up anything in the past, but I really just didn’t want to play at home. It was nothing about the fans. Being at home, I was so happy with that part of my life — playing at home, being in front of friends, hanging with friends and family every day. That was a part of my life that has come and gone. I was like, I’m trying to build a second part of my life as a man living in a different part of the country, just trying to do different things. I did everything I was supposed to do in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, I felt. Now it’s time to do something new. I didn’t want to come back. That’s just my thought process behind it. It had nothing to do with basketball, the fans, the city.”
So obviously playing for the Washington Wizards did not intrigue Kevin Durant in the least but what if, by some miracle, he had a change of heart? What if Kevin Durant missed the sound of gogo music, going to carry out getting wings and fries with mumbo sauce, getting cookies from Iverson Mall, rocking Helly Hansen and New Balances, etc. and decided he wanted to join the Washington Wizards?
Let’s say for the sake of argument, Kevin Durant is a member of the Washington Wizards for three seasons (how long he was a member of the Golden State Warriors) so that would be from the 2016-2017 to the 2018-2019 season. Imagine Kevin Durant teaming up to form a dynamic trio with a healthy John Wall and Bradley Beal. Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal two of the best shooters and all-around great players in the NBA today with John Wall one of (if not the) most athletic point guards and best playmakers in the NBA.
How good would the Wizards have been? Would they have been able to dethrone LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference making it to the NBA Finals? Would Durant have brought a championship back to D.C.?
How much would the Western Conference change without KD on the Warriors? If the Wizards did make it to the NBA Finals, who would they have played against? Would the Warriors still be the team to beat in the Western Conference? Would San Antonio win the West beating the KD-less Warriors? What about the Houston Rockets? Los Angeles Clippers?
If Kevin Durant joined the Washington Wizards, I think they make it to at least one NBA Finals. Look at the Eastern Conference from 2016 when KD signed with the Warriors to last season in 2019 his last season with the Warriors, the Cavaliers with LeBron were the only viable threat in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks became a top team in the East when LeBron moved to the Western Conference joining the LA Lakers and the Raptors only won the championship when they got Kawhi Leonard.
The Celtics, although a very good team, I do not they would have been good enough to beat the Wizards with KD. If the Philadelphia 76ers couldn’t even beat the Celtics in the Playoffs without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward in the lineup, then I for sure they would have been able to beat a KD-led Wizards team in the playoffs.
The best chance the Wizards would have had to make the NBA Finals with Kevin Durant would have been in 2018 the season when Cleveland were at their weakest. The bigger question is: would they have won an NBA championship with Kevin Durant?
To me it all depends on who would have made it out of the Eastern Conference but I would not be shocked if they did win it all. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Wizards won the NBA Finals in every season with KD apart of the team.
I wish Kevin Durant at least considered signing with the Washington Wizards in 2016. If he decided to sign with another team fine but to not even give them a chance to persuade him into signing with them is upsetting. The Wizards would have easily been among the most fun teams to watch with a trio of KD, John Wall and Bradley Beal (not to mention real good). All we can do is speculate how good the Wizards could have been had this happened.
What do you think? How good do you think the Washington Wizards could have been had Kevin Durant signed with the team in the 2016 offseason?