VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Some things take time, even if the public cannot wait. The ever-hyped, Kevin Durant-edition Golden State Warriors started their preseason as less a showcase for their newest addition than a yawn-inducing learning experience, losing 97-93 after a starless second half. The offense started off stilted, as players moved the ball in situations when they’d normally hoist. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green were especially reluctant, combining for eight field goal attempts in their first-half stints.
Durant, who has only had three practices with his new team, was not the Kevin Durant we’ve come to know and played to a smattering of boos. He was 2-of-9 for nine points in his 19 minutes, missing on mostly decent looks. When he finally hit a 3-pointer on his ninth attempt, the relief was visible.
“It’s just funny,” Curry said. “I highly doubt anyone in this arena was affected by that, so it’s just funny. They’re just buying into a narrative that doesn’t really make sense to me. It probably won’t be the last time, but he handles it well, and at the end of the day, it’s about playing basketball.”
This isn’t to say that the misses mattered all that much, as everyone understands the difference between preseason and the regular season. Still, people are impatient for a product unlike any other — a team with two MVPs and four reigning All-Stars — all in their prime. Eventually, the product should catch up to the public appetite, but some edges need smoothing.
“Just missing [shots], no rush for me, I felt great out there. Shot looked good. I don’t know, tight rims, you gotta swish them in,” said Durant. “I think both teams, shots were going in and out the basket, but I feel like I should make every shot, so of course I was frustrated.”
One player in particular already looks comfortable in this star-studded milieu: Klay Thompson. He was his normal conscience-free self, tossing up 13 attempts in less than 19 minutes (making five, for 16 points). His teammates might do well to follow suit and favor aggression, but again, this is the preseason.
It wasn’t beautiful basketball, but it did produce a beautiful moment, the first of many this season, Warriors fans hope. Green threw a touchdown pass in Curry’s direction, possibly an overthrow. Instead of reeling the ball in, Curry flicked it to the sky for Andre Iguodala to crush home. Eventually, Durant should find starring roles and cameos in these YouTube moments.
“I’m sure we’re going to be a hot ticket coming into town and everybody’s going to want to see us play, I look at it that way,” said Durant.
Golden State cut the show short at halftime, retiring their starters to the bench for the third and fourth quarter. For Warriors fans who kept watching, they caught a glimpse of what could be a very bright future for rookie guard Patrick McCaw. The second-rounder impressed, as he had done in summer league, tallying 11 points, five steals and four assists in 22 minutes. His initial tendency toward smart, decisive play might earn him minutes on this roster replete with stars.
“Play-making inside the paint, drive off passes, finding the open game, obviously defensively knows where to be, knocking down jump shots.” said Curry of McCaw. “He’s got a lot of promise. He’s going to help us this year for sure. I like his confidence. He doesn’t say much, he’s very quiet, but when you see his body language, he looks like he belongs and that’s half the battle right there. “
In the meantime, the stars themselves will figure out how to be smarter and more decisive.