When the Warriors were recruiting Kevin Durant during the summer of 2016, he had one pressing question for coach Steve Kerr. “How many minutes are you going to play me?” Durant asked. “Probably 34,” Kerr replied. After averaging 37.8 minutes per game through nine NBA seasons before joining the Warriors, Durant said he would prefer to play about 38 minutes per contest. “Well, if we can blow some teams out,” Kerr said, “it’s going to turn into 34.” Durant’s early exchange with Kerr provided an introduction to the theory of playing fewer minutes in hopes of being fresher for the NBA playoffs and beyond. “When you win, it doesn’t really matter,” Durant said. “You can feel how fresh you are coming down the stretch of the season and in the playoffs when you don’t have to have that wear and tear every night. I didn’t realize that. I just wanted to play.” Nearly a year later, after winning an NBA title, Durant has an altered viewpoint. He jokingly has told Kerr that he “might need a few more (minutes) on the bench.” As the Warriors (5-3) enter Thursday’s nationally televised game against the Spurs (4-3), Durant is averaging 36.4 minutes per contest, up from last season’s 33.4. Durant acknowledged that “every player wants to be Superman and play every minute.” But Kerr learned from how Spurs coach Gregg Popovich managed the playing time of his stars through nearly two decades and five NBA title runs.
How the Warriors plan to handle their stars’ minutes in the 2017-18 season
San Jose Mercury News | Nov 1