Years ago, internet rapper Lil B made a banger of a song after getting on Twitter, telling the world he could beat Kevin Durant in a game of 1-on-1, and when Kevin denied, Lil B created the song—excuse my French—called “Fuck KD.”
Lil B also put a curse on KD, saying he wouldn’t win a ring in his NBA career. Then, a few years and several KD-hiccups later, Lil B lifted the curse, and the following year KD joined the Golden State Warriors, prevented LeBron from winning at least 1-2 more championships, and KD finally won his ring.
All that to say this:
Since KD joined Golden State, in what I refer to in my “head cannon” as the biggest b*tch move in sports history (because KD’s old team was up 3-1 against the Warriors in the Western Conference Championship game in a year where the Warriors set the all-time NBA regular season record with a record of 73-9, which beat the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls’ previous record of 72-10), he’s made a whole bunch of boneheaded mistakes.
He decided to leave Golden State after winning two championships and appearing in 3. (The team, including KD himself, were riddled with injuries in their third appearance since KD joined.)
In many ways, KD lived in basketball heaven in Golden State.
His skill set complemented Steph Curry’s, Klay Thompson’s, and Draymond Green’s so well that, in my biased, but correct-ish opinion, those Golden State teams were the best in NBA history.
The Warriors also played in a style that complemented KD’s—which was a night and day difference compared to playing with Russell Westbrook’s ball dominant, turnover heavy style of play (where Russ always thought he was the better of the two players even though he wasn’t).
First, KD decided to join Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets.
Kyrie, while better than Russ, has a similar style to Russ, which doesn’t complement KD’s skill set. After 3 miserable years where the Nets never reached the Conference Championship (despite having 2 of the league’s top 15—at worst—best players… and in the final year even landing James Harden, another at worst top 15 player at the time), the Nets broke up.
Harden went to Philly.
Kyrie went to Dallas.
And KD went to Phoenix.
At Phoenix, KD has a new teammate: Devin Booker. And Book might be, for the first time in KD’s career, the first person playing with KD who’s visibly better than him. (You can say Steph was better, and you wouldn't be wrong, but they were much closer, and since KD won 2 Finals MVPs to Steph’s zero in the time they played together, I gave the nod to KD.)
But there’s a problem…
KD and Booker have a similar style.
This similar style was their deathblow against the Denver Nuggets in this year’s playoffs. (The Nuggets went on to win the whole thing… more on that in a second.)
And since the NBA offseason started a few weeks back, the Phoenix Suns made another boneheaded blunder:
They added another perennial all-star to their team in Bradley Beal.
But like KD and Booker, Beal plays a similar style to each of them.
If the Suns were a band, KD would be the lead singer… Booker would be the lead singer… And Beal would be the lead singer… while their other two starters would be the bassist and drummer, meaning they have no guitar, keys, horns, etc. (H/t Kevin Wildes, one of my favorite media sport personalities for that one.)
It’s the complete opposite of the defending champs, the Denver Nuggets.
Denver has one all-time great player in Nikola Jokic, who plays an odd and fairly new position in the NBA: The Point Center.
Jokic is a center, but he has handles and passing skills that most point guards envy. The offense runs through him, but his style of play is almost the exact opposite of someone like Shaq’s.
And then they have Jamal Murray, a guard, who complements Jokic’s game almost perfectly. Those two can run a pick and roll anywhere on the court for an easy bucket at any time.
And you know what?
I don’t think the Suns—with their skilled players, but who have a redundant skill set—stand a chance against the synergy that the Nuggets have with Jokic and Murray.
Yesterday, I told you I’d talk about this idea about complementary skill sets again, but in a wildly different way.
The point being:
Complementary skill sets are how you get the “cream of the crop.”
It’s why the KD Warriors were probably the best team in NBA history (and if not, they’re top 3).
It’s why the Nuggets won the ship last year.
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