The phrase “super team” has been thrown around the NBA a lot in recent years, but never more than in the last few days following the Warriors’ second NBA title in three years — their first since adding former league MVP Kevin Durant.
Many think that Durant leaving the Thunder to join the 73-win Warriors created a super team of All-Stars and potential Hall of Famers, tipping the competitive scales of the NBA beyond repair. Durant, however, doesn’t see it this way. He sees a bunch of players that were underrated and cast aside. Per ESPN:
“First of all, if everybody wanted Steph, he would have been the No. 1 pick,” Durant said. “A lot of people passed on him. A lot of people doubted Steph, saying he wasn’t going to be this good. Klay Thompson, he was just supposed to be this OK shooter in the league, like that’s what you thought of Klay Thompson when he came in. Draymond, nobody wanted him. He was a 6-5 power forward. [They said] he couldn’t play in the league, he couldn’t start in the NBA. Shaun Livingston had a crazy knee injury.
“Nobody wanted him. Nobody thought that he would get back to being Shaun Livingston. Andre Iguodala, he got traded a couple of times. Nobody wanted him. A lot of people didn’t expect these guys to be where they are today. Super team? No, we just work extremely well together. Coach puts us in position to maximize our strengths.”
The Warriors not being a super team isn’t an opinion that fans will take easily, but Durant did a good job explaining himself with examples. One thing Durant has going for him is that “super teams” are usually considered those that brought together a group of superstars in an unnatural way (via trades or free agency).
The 2008 Celtics, which traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to pair with Paul Pierce, were the first modern example. More infamously, LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat and won two titles in four years (though if you ask LeBron, that doesn’t count as a super team, either).
Durant’s point is correct in this way: Three of the Warriors’ four superstars (none of which, with the possible exception of Curry, were considered potential superstars coming into the league) were drafted by the team. Those other “super teams” each had two of their stars come in via trade or free agency.
The end result for the Warriors certainly appears to be a super team, but the way they were assembled was quite different from the ones that have come before.