OAKLAND, Calif. — Anxious and eager to get started with his new team, Kevin Durant woke up extra early in the 7 o’clock hour and then hit freeway traffic on the way to his first formal work day with the Warriors.
“I wasn’t used to that in Oklahoma City,” he said with a chuckle following his initial practice with Golden State.
Welcome to the Bay Area, KD.
He’s loving it so far. So is two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry, asked several different ways after Day 1 how defenses might possibly defend a lineup led by him, Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and new center Zaza Pachulia. Not to mention all the playmakers coming off the bench for the NBA runner-ups last season to LeBron James and Cleveland.
Everybody expects more from the Warriors now — even after a record-setting season that ended with 73 wins but without another championship banner.
As Curry and Co. are so used to by now, every team will bring its best to face star-studded Golden State led by its baby-faced point guard who shattered his own record with 402 3-pointers last season and is looking for even more from himself.
“We’ve just got to be ready for pretty much anything,” Curry said. “It’s going to be a feeling-out process throughout the whole season. Last year, teams started playing us a little differently all the way up until like March. We have to adjust. … I have the same mentality. I don’t really think about any other expectations. I want to get better. I want to be better than I was last year, and that’s going to be the same regardless if KD was here or not.”
The Warriors held a team dinner Monday night that was as much get-to-know-you as it was outlining the season ahead. Durant said they haven’t even discussed who’s going to get more shots or minutes, it’s all about getting to know each other.
When things immediately came together on the court, coach Steve Kerr was pleasantly surprised given both he and general manager Bob Myers expected some basketballs to fly every which way as all the superstars found their timing together.
Durant fit in “great” on the first day, Kerr said.
“It went well, better than I thought,” said Kerr, the reigning NBA Coach of the Year. “We had a team dinner last night and I looked around and we had, I want to say, 12 or 13 new faces including the camp invites. It’s a reminder that this is a much different team, much different season. Practice was really smooth, especially considering all the new faces.”
Curry knows this team will be different from the group that came off a championship a year ago, and he has been reminding himself that “every day you have to learn a little something” to reach the big prize at the end.
Losing Game 7 still stings for the Warriors, who led the series 3-1 before squandering the advantage — just as Durant and his former Thunder team did against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
“That’s life, that’s all part of it,” Kerr said.
Oh, and speaking of Curry’s focus, he is completely unconcerned as he enters into a contract year. He insists his future, which Curry plans to be right where he is now, can wait until next summer.
“My answer’s not going to be any different all year, so keep asking me, I won’t have a different one,” he said. “I’m not going to let it distract me at all. I want to be back here. I like playing here, and that’s it. The rest of it is about what we’re going to do this year.”