By the USS Blogger (Ray Rogers)
At a time where the entire NBA world and beyond is obsessing about former (Yes former) Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant’s choice to join the Golden State Warriors in what is the most talked about decision since “The Decision”. Why in my opinion, is this NOT the most impactful move of NBA free agency? Well, it’s extremely obvious and here are just a few reasons why:
- The Golden State Warriors won an NBA title WITHOUT Kevin Durant.
- The Golden State Warriors went 73 – 9 in the 2015-16 regular season WITHOUT Kevin Durant.
- The Golden State Warriors eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder from the 2016 playoffs on a team that featured Kevin Durant.
My point you ask? Golden State is a top tier NBA powerhouse and potential dynasty with or without Kevin Durant, which means his impact cannot lead to a dramatic change. In fact, the Warriors will lose more than nine games this upcoming season which will be a drop off. Exactly, imagine that, the Warriors will be worse off next season. So in looking at the rest of free agency which is extremely relevant by the way, I highlighted two particular deals thus far, with the first being obvious featuring point-guard Jeff Teague being traded from the Atlanta Hawks to the Indiana Pacers and the second being forward/center Al Horford leaving the Atlanta Hawks for the Boston Celtics.
In an NBA eastern conference that has been owned by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who’ve gone 24 – 4 versus their conference opponents in the playoffs over the last 2 seasons with eight of these wins coming against an Al Horford led team, it appears safe to say that Al Horford no matter who he plays for is not a threat to the Cavs. However, there is one NBA star in the eastern conference who can at least say that his teams challenged the likes of Lebron James in the past and that is none other than Indiana Pacers forward Paul George. Now for those of you thinking that Paul George has never won a playoff series against Lebron James, well at least he didn’t get swept in back to back seasons. This past NBA season was also a resurgent year for George who suffered that gruesome injury that we would all like to forget about during a televised summer exhibition game with USA basketball. The problem however was that the Pacers lacked a consistent second scorer that can create more scoring opportunities and Jeff Teague appears to be the guy who can fill this void. For the Atlanta Hawks this past season, Jeff Teague averaged 15.7 points per game (PPG) which is higher than any players on the Pacers roster aside from Paul George with SG Monta Ellis being the closest at 13.8 PPG. Now you pair Teague with SF Rudy Gay who looks to be heading to Indiana via trade from the Sacramento Kings, Paul George, and an up and coming big man in PF Myles Turner and this appears to be a team that can advance past the first round of the playoffs. New Pacers head coach Nate McMillan has the experience and was part of the Pacers coaching staff during those tough playoff series losses to Lebron James who at that time was a member of the Miami Heat. Nate McMillan is also a coach committed to defense which will help the growth of Jeff Teague as his skills continue to evolve as an all-around player. Consistency is what appears to be Jeff Teague’s greatest attribute as he increased his scoring and assists per game average in each of his first five seasons in the NBA. The past two seasons, Teague averaged just one point below his career high PPG of 16.5 PPG in 2013-14. If there is one area in which Teague could improve, it would be assist. Averaging just over five assist per game for his career is none too impressive, but it’s an upgrade from former Pacers starting point-guard George Hill who averaged an abysmal 3.5 assist per game and was acquired by the Utah Jazz in the three team deal that brought Teague to Indiana.
Only time will tell, but let’s place focus on NBA free agency as a whole as opposed to just looking at “the splash family” which Jeff Teague affectionately called the new look Golden State Warriors on twitter.