The Golden State Warriors is inarguably the best basketball team of this era, having won two of the last three championships. And with Kevin Durant in tow, the Warriors are also favored to win more championships in the near future.
So how does Durant, the MVP of the Warriors’ recent championship run, pit Golden State against the all-time bests? During his latest appearance on “The Bill Simmons Podcast“, Durant cited the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers as the Warriors’ toughest hypothetical matchup.
“That 16-1 team, that Lakers team would’ve been tough because (Shaquille O’Neal) was just big,” Durant explained. ” … That team was bigger, you needed some size to get them, but they were bigger and Kobe (Bryant) was in rare form.”
That memorable Lakers team, anchored by O’Neal and Bryant, went 15-1 throughout the playoffs to secure a mostly unchallenged title. Their lone loss came when Allen Iverson played the game of his life, but the Lakers were otherwise untouched.
Durant’s solution on defense against the Lakers would be to hard double O’Neal anytime he received the ball in the low post, while also sending help at Bryant which would presumably leave the Lakers’ supporting players open quite regularly.
As for on offense, Durant figured the Warriors would torture O’Neal by dragging him out to the perimeter and forcing him to move his feet.
“We would definitely put Shaq in a lot of pick-and-rolls. Make him guard Steph (Curry), me, Klay (Thompson) coming off pick-and-rolls. We would double him every time he got the ball and make him be a passer.”