What I’m going to say will not be popular. And I will probably be derided as a deluded homer, just rationalizing fake reasons as to why Kevin Durant should sign with the Wizards in two years. But I’ll say it anyway: Kevin Durant should sign with the Wizards in a couple of years, and not because he is from Washington D.C. Of course, that it is home adds to the allure, but plenty of basketball reasons are more responsible for why Durant should come to D.C.
Mind you this could all change relatively quickly if the Thunder win a championship this upcoming season. Before explaining why Durant should sign with the Wiz in a few years, let’s first remember how unlikely that is, and how many things would have to go right (or wrong, for Thunder fans) for KD to end up in Washington. With LeBron out of South Beach, the pecking in the NBA looks like this: 1) Spurs, 2) Thunder, 3) Everyone else: Clippers, Warriors, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Blazers, etc. The Thunder may even be 1B, ever so slightly trailing the Spurs. During the regular season, the Thunder were 4-0 against the Spurs, and if not for Serge Ibaka’s injury, the Thunder may have ended up hoisting the Finals trophy instead. Which is all to say, there is a very good chance that the Thunder win the title this season. And if that happens, there is just about a zero percent chance Durant leaves. Just for the sake of argument though, what if Russell Westbrook gets hurt again. Then what? Supremely talented as he is–easily one of the ten best players in the NBA–Westbrook has undergone three knee surgeries already at the tender age of 25. Each time, Westbrook has returned from injury just as effective as before, but how many more blows can he take? Even if Westbrook does stay healthy, that’s no guarantee that the Thunder are going to win a title. It’s not like Westbrook and Durant are natural fits next to each other. There’s the constant subplot of whether they can coexist, always present just below the surface, adding tension after failed fourth quarters.
And Westbrook is the least of the Thunder’s problems. Serge Ibaka has improved dramatically since entering the league, and showed just how important he is against the Spurs in the playoffs, but what about the rest of OKC’s roster? Yes, Reggie Jackson is a solid player. He can score the ball and run the point, pushing Westbrook to the off-guard when needed. Unless he takes some unexpectedly gigantic leaps though, his development seems a bit capped. Steven Adams showed glimpses of having a very bright future, but only as a role player really. It’s difficult to envision ever being an All-Star. Beyond those five players, the latter two being mere role players, the Thunder have an unproven and incapable bench that could very well be their downfall, if they fail to win a title. The Thunder have a brighter future than most teams in the league, but being in the Western Conference, it’s still very difficult to make it to the Finals.
That’s why going the Wizards shouldn’t seem like a crazy idea. In two years, when John Wall is 25 and in his prime, and Bradley Beal is 23, with four years of experience as a starter, the Wizards will most likely have the best backcourt in the league. The rest of their roster is a bit unknown at this point in time. They’ll probably have Marcin Gortat, who’ll be going on 33, but it’s unlikely they’ll have Nene. Things can change in two years. All of this is speculation and hinges on guys staying healthy. In two years though, isn’t a duo of Wall and Beal, both in the middle of their prime, at least close to as attractive as Westbrook and Ibaka? Those who are skeptical of Wall’s jump shot and Beal’s potential will disagree, but that’s okay. They can put all of their eggs into a super talented head-case, who’s had three knee surgeries, and thinks he’s better than Durant. They can keep thinking that guy and Durant will coexist, even though they haven’t really in six years. The thing is: Wall and Beal would be natural fits next to Durant. Wall is a facilitator more than anything, unlike Westbrook. Wall really is a pass-first point guard. And Bradley Beal is great off the ball. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands every play to be effective. Eventually, you’d like to see him develop more of a game off the bounce, but he is very good catching and shooting. He’d ideally prevent teams from crashing Durant, and he’d space out the offense.
Being in the East also makes the Wizards a bit more attractive too. It would be a slam dunk, if not for the possibility and likelihood that the Cavaliers eventually land Kevin Love. That will make the East much more difficult, no doubt. But even if that does happen, the East isn’t nearly as deep as the West.There are other good teams: the Bulls, Raptors, and Pacers are solid teams, but none of those are close to as talented as the Warriors or Clippers in the West, for example.
I don’t think the Thunder’s window is closing, or anything like that. This is entirely speculation, and if the Thunder win the title this year, then forget about everything I’ve said. If they continue to struggle in the playoffs though, then Durant should consider switching uniforms and joining the Wiz. Yeah, I’m a Wizards fan. I’ll readily admit that, and it biases my opinion, but there are plenty of basketball reasons that should make Durant pause. The Wizards have some bright players that are also younger and could take some of the load off of Durant’s shoulders. Durant is already thinking about the possibility, and that’s a good sign. And the Wizards are clearly thinking HARD about the possibility too, already planning ahead.
In a year, we might look back on the ‘Durant to D.C.’ speculation and laugh, if he’s won a ring in Oklahoma City. But if doesn’t, it’s not too early to start dreaming.