Golden State Warriors: How can the team replace Kevin Durant’s impact?

Warriors, Kevin Durant (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Warriors, Kevin Durant (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Golden State Warriors
TORONTO, ONTARIO – JUNE 10: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts against the Toronto Raptors in the second half during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

1. Isolation

Kevin Durant is one of the best isolation scorers in the current NBA — and of all time. He averaged 1.06 points per possessions last season which was good for ninth in the league out of players who had an isolation frequency of more than 10%.

He can score from anywhere on the court with a combination of shooting, handles, and strength. There is no one else in the entire league with his skillset, so he cannot be replaced by just one person.

The Warriors will look to three players to replace his isolation scoring from the perimeter (the next slide will cover his post-scoring). These players are Stephen Curry, D’Angelo Russell, and Alec Burks.

Stephen Curry

Curry doesn’t run a lot of isolations. He finds most of his shots within the Warriors offense, however, during the playoffs, when Kevin Durant was out with injuries, Curry’s isolation frequency went from 5.6% up to a more significant 8.6%.

Throughout those 22 games, he averaged 1.21 points per possession on 2.0 isolation possessions per game. That puts him in the 97th percentile in the league.

Before Steve Kerr arrived in Golden State, Curry used to run a lot of isolations. This is something he should be comfortable doing at the end of the game when a bucket is needed.

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D’Angelo Russell

Russell was not nearly as efficient as Curry or Durant in isolation last season. He averaged 0.83 points per possession in isolation last season. But he was a go-to scorer for the Brooklyn Nets last season after Caris LeVert got injured.

He is still very young despite having some experience now. He has all the confidence in the world to make isolation plays in crunch time and he’ll likely be the first man up to volunteer to take the big shot down the stretch.

The Warriors will hope he’ll develop into a more efficient scorer and if he does, we could be seeing a fair few D’Angelo Russell game-winners this season, just like we did last.

The really exciting part about Russell’s isolations is that he is a great playmaker too. Durant had some playmaking ability, but not on Russell’s level. Russell is fantastic at reading the defense and making good decisions.

Alec Burks

He will obviously not get as many minutes as the other two but Alec Burks should provide some isolation scoring on the second unit when it is needed.

If the Warriors bench is in a scoring drought then it will fall to Burks to create a bucket out of nothing off the dribble. He is also excellent against switches out of the pick-and-roll and this will be something he’ll look for a lot.