Kevin Durant will have to wait two months to wear the blue and gold of the Warriors, but he’s getting a rare opportunity to play with some of his new teammates with Team USA.
Joining Durant on the roster are fellow Warriors Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Getting to play alongside one another, on the formidable USA Olympic side is the perfect start to Durant's future at the Golden State Warriors.
The team is already excited about their newest addition.
“It’s going to be a fun year. We have this journey we have to endure first, but it’s easy to say it’s exciting,” Thompson said.
We all know that Durant will be sensational for the Warriors physically, sitting third highest for PPG in the 2015/16 regular season with 28.2 PPG, behind new teammate Steph Curry and Houston Rockets’ James Harden, and that Durant will fit seamlessly into Golden State’s roster, where he'll continue to be a dangerous offensive player. However, sometimes sport isn't all about statistics or physicality.
It’s also about mental strength and relationships.
Which is where playing for Team USA has already begun to be invaluable preparation for the superstar. Team USA have been playing the Chinese National Team in exhibition matches around America. First in Los Vegas, followed by Los Angeles and then in Oakland, which was the first time Durant has played at home since his controversial decision to join the Warriors.
Durant was met at Oracle Arena with raucous cheer and sheer excitement from Golden State fans.
Taking to the court 15 minutes prior to tip-off, the team received standing ovations from the half-full arena.
“It was amazing. The atmosphere was great; the energy was great. The fans showed me major love, and I appreciate that”, Durant said in the post-match conference.
To know fans will cheer and respect you are incredible mental preparations before confronting large masses of NBA fans in the regular season.
Furthering Durant’s Golden State support, Andre Iguogala and Steph Curry were both sitting court-side along with General Manager Bob Myers and assistant General Managers Kirk Lacob and Travis Schlenk. The team showed a united front for Durant.
“They know the decision I made and how stressful that time was so they’re just trying to make me feel comfortable, and I appreciate that. They’re being great team-mates already. It’s a testament to who they are as people,” Durant said.
It took a meagre seven seconds for the scoring-machine to get his first bucket, in true Durant form, a three-pointer on the wing and to sweeten the deal, from a Draymond Green assist.
Durant followed up with a fast dunk on the following possession and scored 13 points for Team USA.
Playing for Team USA is giving Durant a subtle insight into Warrior life, and how he’ll mould around the existing players whilst simultaneously giving him confidence.
Both fans and teammates were out in force to support Durant which has already lifted the superstar’s spirits.
It’s fairly safe to say that everyone is looking forward to seeing how Durant pans out for the Warriors. He’s clearly enjoying playing for Team USA and excited about the future.
“I’m just gonna try my best to fit in but also play my game, and everyone around me I think is going to elevate me. It’s going to be fun figuring things out.”
How he’ll be greeted by the rest of the conference fans, however, is another matter entirely. That verdict will have to wait until October.