Mychal Thompson: Warriors "Definitely" Miss Durant

The Warriors haven't lost since losing Kevin Durant, but "they're going to need him" to win a championship, Thompson says

Tiki and Tierney
May 21, 2019 - 6:11 pm
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Since losing Kevin Durant to a calf injury in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series with Houston, the Golden State Warriors have not lost a game. They beat the Rockets in Game 6 to close out Houston, and they swept Portland to reach the NBA Finals for the fifth straight year.

Thus, the question must be asked: do the Warriors miss Durant?

“They definitely miss Kevin,” two-time NBA champion Mychal Thompson said on Tiki & Tierney. “Even though they’ve been on this run without Kevin, they definitely need him because they miss his length around the basket, they miss his versatility on defense, they miss his rebounding. You’re talking about the best player in the game. Of course they miss him – and they’re going to need him against either Toronto or Milwaukee.”

Without Durant, the Warriors have looked like the team that won it all in 2015 with ball movement galore. They can win like that, and they can win with Kevin Durant abusing defenders to the tune of 40 points a game.

“They can do both,” Thompson said. “They can keep the ball moving and they can iso Kevin when he’s got it going, so it’s the best of both worlds that the Warriors will have when Kevin comes back. So yes, they definitely need him to win this championship.”

In beating the Blazers, the Warriors became the first team to reach five straight Finals since the 1966 Celtics. How is a team so consistently dominant without ego getting in the way?

“These guys understand,” Thompson said. “They’re all mature, they’re all professionals, and they understand that the more we win, the more rewards are going to come to them off the court in endorsements and sponsorships. With winning comes recognition. We all know that Kevin Durant is their best player. Steph is right there shoulder-to-shoulder with him. But Draymond and Klay and Andre and all the rest of the guys are going to get their share of the rewards, too. Because they’re with the Warriors, these guys got to go play golf at Augusta. So all these little things come at you because you’re a winner and a champion, and they understand that. Everybody is going to eat. Everybody is going to get a nice chunk of that pie.”

While Durant and Curry get much of the attention, Thompson could win his fourth NBA title – and he’s still just 29. He is carving out a Hall-of-Fame career – and his father isn’t surprised.

“I saw a future Hall of Famer when he was in high school,” Thompson said. “I told him that. He thought I was crazy. We were driving home one night after one of his high school games and I said, ‘Klay, if you stay serious about this game, if you respect this game and you respect the opportunities that are going to come your way, you’re going to be a Hall of Famer.’ But I told him that. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s doing this because I saw this kind of ability in his game.”

Brandon Tierney asked why Klay, an L.A. native, didn’t go to UCLA or Duke or Kansas or some other traditional powerhouse. Why Washington State?

“Here’s a simple explanation as to why guys like Steph and Klay and so many others get overlooked,” Thompson said. “Too many scouts today in basketball want to recruit kids who can win the dunk contest and not the three-point shooting contest. (They want) athletes instead of basketball players.”

Click below to listen to Thompson’s interview in its entirety.