The top 4 teams Kevin Durant has ever played for: where do the 2022 Nets stand?
The best player in the world plays for the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant was recently ranked the league’s best player by both ESPN and Sports Illustrated. James Harden cracked the top 10 and Kyrie Irving the top 20 of each list as well.
So is this Nets team, currently the odds on favorites to win the 2022 NBA title, the best superteam that Kevin Durant has ever played for? KD has played on at least two, and possibly even three superteams now, depending on your definition. But which is the most talented team he’s ever played for? Let’s look at the best teams KD has been a part of and try to rank them.
Great Kevin Durant teams:
4) The 2011-2012 Oklahoma City Thunder
How far did they go: lost in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat
The 2011-2012 Thunder team was absolutely stacked. With Kevin Durant, a pair of future MVPs in Russell Westbrook and James Harden, a stud stretch-big in Serge Ibaka, plus role players Kendrick Perkins, Reggie Jackson, and Thabo Sefolosha this group was destined for a handful of championships; I’m talking at least four and maybe more.
In fact, the Thunder also had Uncle Dunkle Jeff Green prior to that 2012 season and could have kept him around for longer if both sides had agreed upon an extension.
The story does not have a happy ending for Oklahoma fans, however. You may be familiar with some of the gory details. Thunder GM Sam Presti overvalued his anchor big in Kendrick Perkins and decided he was essential to what they were building. When tasked with finding a core to build around that wouldn’t put the small-market franchise into the luxury tax, he shockingly decided to trade James Harden when he could have dumped Perk and others. If they’d simply let a quartet of Ibaka, Russ, Harden and Kevin Durant develop together, this group might well have gone down in history as the greatest team of all time. Heck, if they couldn’t afford to keep Serge long-term they’d still have been multi-time champs. Then we’d only have the 1996 Bulls to compare them to.
3) The 2021-2022 Brooklyn Nets
How far did they go: ?
Third overall is where I think this current group should go in the all-time Kevin Durant team rankings.
Brooklyn Nets Training Camp Roster
19 out of 20 camp spots have been filled.
— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) September 17, 2021
They don’t need Blake Griffin to play like 2012 Blake. They don’t need 2014 LaMarcus Aldridge or 2015 Paul Millsap. They just need their big three to be healthy and available and they might be able to run any team in the league off the floor. Whether head coach Steve Nash can get his group to play up to their own lofty expectations is yet to be seen. But to his credit, the team was right in the thick of it vying for the Eastern Conference’s top seed last season, even despite their big three only appearing in a handful of games together. They’re that good with Kevin Durant leading the way.
James Harden is a no-brainer future Hall of Famer. He might currently encompass “the greatest player to never win a championship” right now, (up there with legends like Nash, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley) but if he’s able to shed that dubious distinction with a ring, his rightful place in history will become clear to everyone.
Kyrie Irving is Kyrie Irving. According to this humble writer, Kyrie hit the most important shot in NBA history, at least in my lifetime. Kyrie’s game seven shot basically ended the 2016 Warriors and changed the course of history. Had that shot not gone in, who knows if the Warriors would have been able to successfully recruit Kevin Durant… We know what Kyrie is capable of.
Maybe this 2022 Nets group will change my opinion in time, but until they win a title, I can’t put them higher than this in the Kevin Durant rankings. We’ll need to see how healthy they are and how they fare come playoff time.
2) The 2017-2018 Golden State Warriors
How far did they go: Won the NBA Finals
Spoiler alert, the 2017-2018 Warriors’ superteam wasn’t as potent as the 2016-2018 version. The key players were the same in Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, led by coach Steve Kerr. But their heart wasn’t as in it as the 2017 squads was. In fact, a James Harden-Chris Paul unit had them on the ropes, up 3-2 in with home court advantage in the Western Conference Finals that year; that is until CP3 pulled a hamstring and missed the final two games.
But still, that Warriors team won the title and deserve to be regarded as the second most talented team of KD’s career. If you took that team, and asked them to prepare to take on the current Nets team (yes with Kevin Durant magically playing for both sides) I’d bet on these Warriors. We still don’t know how healthy the 2022 Nets will look. But it’s probably fair to say that the 2018 Dubs were both underachievers and one of the best teams of all time.
1) The 2016-2017 Warriors
How far did they go: Won the NBA Finals
This was a murderer’s row of heavy hitters. Not the 73 win Warriors of 2016. Not the ’96 Bulls. The 2017 Warriors deserve the nod here for both the greatest team Kevin Durant has ever played on, as well as the greatest NBA team ever assembled.
Every key member of this squad was still in their prime, and fully motivated. They were simply indomitable. Peak Splash Brothers, peak Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green, a hounding version of Andre, and Kevin Durant at the height of his superpowers offensively, while also playing some of the best team defense of his life. This team was so good it was almost boring. Nobody had a chance the whole year and everyone knew it. They only lost a single playoff game that year.
If the 2022 Nets want to approach this level, they may need to swing another blockbuster trade, or swiftly develop Nic Claxton into the next version of Joel Embiid. If you wanted to say that the current Nets have Kevin Durant also, and Harden is on par with Steph, and Kyrie is on par with Klay, then you still have Hall of Fame level defenders in Draymond and Andre for the rest of the current Nets core to try to keep up with. And I’m not sure I expect that type of leap out of Joe Harris or Patty Mills. Advantage, ’17 Dubs.