Kevin Durant to miss at least four weeks

The big news of the day is that Kevin Durant suffered a sprained MCL and a bone bruise on his left leg last night and is considered out indefinitely. The injury will be re-evaluated in four weeks. This is a huge blow to the Warriors, but it is not the end of the world. They have a very comfortable lead in the Western Conference as they are four games up in the standings on the Spurs and should be able to hold court until the season ends in six weeks.

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While this injury will be re-evaluated in four weeks, it’s possible that the Warriors will keep him out until the playoffs. The first round match-up is likely to be no match-up at all and the Warriors are much better making sure that Durant is 100% before bringing him back. This is similar to how the team handled Stephen Curry‘s injury during last year’s playoffs.

To fill the void created by Durant, the team has signed the recently released Matt Barnes to fill in at small forward. Barnes is no Durant replacement, but he is a solid defender and can make an open three pointer when needed. That is all the team needs right now as they also have Andre Iguodala to fill a lot of those minutes. It’ll be interesting to see how often the Warriors “go big” and move Draymond Green down to small forward and filling the power forward and center minutes with some combination of Zaza Pachulia, David West, JaVale McGee and Kevon Looney. You could also see Patrick McCaw and Shaun Livingston get some small forward minutes.

This injury did have an unintended consequence as the signing of Barnes cost them signing point guard Jose Calderon who they had been linked to. In the grand scheme of things this move is probably a wash, but another guard who can shoot could’ve helped this team in the playoffs.

I think that there is a certain upside of this injury, at least from a viewer’s perspective as we are likely to see the return of the version of Steph Curry that dominated the league the last two years. While he has had games that have resembled that player, he hasn’t been the night-in, night-out threat that we saw last season simply because he didn’t need to be. Now he does again and that could be very fun to watch. Of course, we’ll also see more offense from Klay Thompson as well and that is also very fun. Draymond Green will also take on a bigger offensive role. Basically, it’s going to be 2015-16 all over again. Back when the Warriors were the best team in the league, but not the juggernaut of the league. At least for a few weeks.

I don’t see this move affecting the Warriors championship odds whatsoever until this injury is re-evaluated in four weeks. With Durant they are not only the favorite, but the presumptive champion of the league and until we learn that he won’t be back it’s silly to speculate that any team will challenge them. While this injury sucks, it’s good for the Warriors that this move happened now and not a week ago at this time. If that were the case, we might have seen a bit more movement at the deadline as one of the Rockets/Jazz/Spurs might have made a move to capitalize on a perceived vulnerability.

As it is now, the Warriors are still -150 at Bovada to win the title and there is no reason to think that is a bad play.

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