Kevin Durant is a polarizing player, but you can’t deny that he knows his own mind. There are reasons behind everything he does, even if he doesn’t reveal them at the time.
Durant leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors in 2016 was one of those times. Durant had been with the Thunder for eight seasons and him leaving was seen as a betrayal — or worse. Durant didn’t just leave for an established team, he left for the team that had just come back from a 3-1 deficit to eliminate the Thunder in the Conference Finals.
Durant announced his decision in the Players’ Tribune, but he didn’t really explain it. Now almost four years later, he finally did on a recent episode of the “All the Smoke” podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.
“In OKC, I played with a lot of athletes. I didn’t play with a lot of skill guys, not like shooters [and] ball-handlers. So after a while, my game started to grow and I was like, ‘I need a change.’ This was before the [2015-16] season even started. I was tired of being the only guy who could make threes, make jump shots, and consistently make them.”
Durant’s decision wasn’t made for any reason other than basketball. He wanted to find a roster that would maximize his skills, and he felt that the Thunder just couldn’t give that to him.
What Durant said about athletes vs. skill players could be taken as a dig at former Thunder guys like Russell Westbrook for being less-than-great at shooting, but he’s not putting anyone on blast. The world already knows that Westbrook isn’t a prodigious shooter, but he’s outstanding at other things. Other 2015-2016 Thunder players like Steven Adams and Enes Kanter weren’t great shooters either.
Durant was looking for a team where he could be one of the guys making threes and jump shots, not the only one. He definitely found it.