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Kevin Durant: Cleveland Cavaliers were the NBA's most talented team in 2016

Speaking to Hot 97, Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said that the Cleveland Cavaliers were the NBA's most talented team during the 2016 season.
Credit: AP
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, center, celebrates with teammates after Game 7 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 19, 2016. The Cavaliers won 93-89. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Typically during a sports season, it's the team that wins the championship that's considered the best.

When it came to the 2015-16 NBA season, however, that wasn't necessarily the case.

Although it was the Cleveland Cavaliers who ultimately won the 2016 NBA Finals -- doing so in historic fashion -- many have still considered their opponent, the Golden State Warriors, to have been the better team. After all, it was those Warriors who went 73-9 in the regular season, which was good for the best record in NBA history, while featuring three All-Stars, including 2-time MVP Stephen Curry.

But while some treat the fact that the Cavs were the team to actually win the championship as little more than a footnote, Kevin Durant remembers the 2015-16 campaign differently.

Speaking to Hot 97's Peter Rosenberg on Tuesday, the 10-time All-Star discussed the most heartbreaking losses of his NBA career. But after Rosenberg brought up Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder blowing a 3-1 series lead over the Warriors in the 2016 Western Conference Finals, the former MVP was quick to point out why that one didn't sting as much as some might have thought.

"It doesn't rank in the top five," Durant said. "We lost Game 2 [of the NBA] Finals in 2012 to Miami. That was a tough loss. We lost Game 5 against Memphis at home -- it was a 2-2 series and they went up 3-2. Like, those are tough losses to me because I really, really, really felt like we had a chance to have some momentum."

As Durant went on to explain, the reason the Thunder's loss to the Warriors in 2016 doesn't rank as high is that he didn't feel Oklahoma City had a realistic shot to win the NBA title that wasn't ultimately won by Cleveland.

"We were playing against a 73-win team in the Warriors and the Spurs, who were a 67-win team that year," Durant noted. "And then the Cavs were the best team in the league -- most talented team.  So I'm like, 'We've got an uphill climb. Let's just see what we can do.' But these other seasons, I just felt like we actually had it."

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Of course, Durant wouldn't have to wait long after that to win his first ring, as he signed as a free agent with the Warriors following the 2016 season. After three seasons in Golden State, two of which resulted in wins over the Cavs in the NBA Finals, Durant signed a free agent contract with the Brooklyn Nets, where he'll team with former Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving.