Kevin Durant’s long-overdue return to The Bay as a member of the Brooklyn Nets is finally happening this Saturday. The case can be made that the reunion doesn’t carry the same hype to it considering there will be no fans inside Chase Center to cheer or jeer their former superstar. Plus, it’s not even the same arena that KD played in, as the Golden State Warriors moved away from Oracle Arena since last season.
Still, no one can deny what Durant meant to the Warriors during his short but definitely sweet tenure with the franchise.
As pivotal as KD was to the Dubs’ last two championships, there were reports that he did feel unappreciated at times. After all, it was the Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson who dominated headlines most of the time, while Draymond Green also had his fair share of both good and bad publicity.
Obviously, those two NBA titles and two Finals MVPs were the highlights of Durant’s career in Oakland.
With that said, let’s have a look at some of the most underrated Kevin Durant performances in a Dubs jersey that most of us probably forgot about.
5. First game against the Oklahoma City Thunder
Some players struggle against their former teams in their encounter after a big trade or in Durant’s case, a controversial free agent signing. But that did not apply with the 6-foot-10 supreme scorer.
Facing his ex-teammate Russell Westbrook on November 3, 2016, KD showed OKC what they’re missing after dropping 29 points in the first half alone. The Slim Reaper finished with 39 points on 15-for-24 shooting to give the Dubs an easy win.
Nov. 3, 2016 = Kevin Durant’s first game against the Thunder. The dude DOMINATED with 39 points on 15-for-24 shooting. This pull-up 3 in transition gave him 29 points in the 1st half! pic.twitter.com/3b1nLIm2rf
— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) April 21, 2020
Durant was even more brilliant in their second meeting, putting up 40 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
The current Warriors squad, meanwhile, are already aware that Durant brings his A-game against former foes. Brooklyn and Golden State already faced off in the 2020 season opener, where Durant casually dropped 22 points in the Nets’ blowout win at Barclays Center.
For sure, Stephen Curry and company will be extra wary of Durant in his first game back in Oakland.
4. Career-playoff high of 50 points
Durant can easily drop 50 in his sleep, so not a lot of fans pundits gave him much credit when he did that in a pressure-packed playoff game in the 2019 Western Conference first round against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The eight-seeded Clips gave the Warriors quite the scare in that series, but KD made sure no upsets would take place by delivering the killing blow in Game 6.
Apart from the personal milestone, he also broke several franchise and league records that night.
The former second overall pick scored 38 of his 50 points in the first half, tying a league record. He also joined legendary Warriors players Rick Barry, Wilt Chamberlain and Sleepy Floyd as the only ones to score at least 50 points in a postseason game in franchise history.
Durant even became the eighth player in NBA history to ever score back-to-back 45 point games in the playoffs after dropping 45 in a losing effort in Game 5 of the series.
Kevin Durant had himself a night
🔥 #NBAPlayoffs career-high 50 points
🔥 38 first half points ties Playoff record for most in a first half
🔥 Fourth Warrior to ever score 50+ in a Playoff game
🔥 Eighth player in @NBAHistory to score 45+ points in back-to-back Playoff games pic.twitter.com/15gTQpTaSW
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 27, 2019
3. Three straight 35-point games in the playoffs
After dispatching the Clips in the first round in 2019, KD continued to break more records in the following series against the Houston Rockets.
Durant easily put up 35 points in Game 1, making him only the second Dubs player since Rick Barry to score 35 or more in three consecutive postseason games.
He also joined the ranks of LeBron James, Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan by becoming the fourth player in the last 30 years to score 200 points in a five-game playoff span within the same year.
Later on, he became the third Warriors player along Barry and Chamberlain to record at least 30 points in five straight playoff contests. Not even Curry and Thompson have achieved that feat (at least, just yet).
2. Elevating the Warriors defense to an even higher level
Kevin Durant will go down in history as one of the most unguardable and complete offensive players the league has ever seen.
His arrival at The Bay made an already daunting Warriors offense practically unstoppable to stop. However, not much has been said about the defensive presence he also brought in Oakland. Durant’s offense has been so phenomenal that his defense has long been one of the most underrated aspects of his game.
The one-time NBA MVP has taken flak before for his slender built, but he uses every inch of his height and length to lockdown his opponents.
Still not convinced? Here’s a look at some of Durant’s best defensive highlights in his three-year stay in Golden State.
1. Final game in Dubs jersey
Game 5 of the 2019 Finals will always be marred by that devastating Achilles injury that Durant suffered. It caused him a year off basketball and there were fears if Durant would ever be the same player again.
Obviously, he still is and some even argue he’s even greater now, but that’s a whole different story.
With the defending champs’ back against the wall, Durant, who was not even back to 100 percent at the time, valiantly returned to give his team a fighting chance.
He only played 12 minutes before going down with the injury, but he torched Toronto defenders with 11 points during that stretch.