Column: The King keeps his crown as best NBA player
Sure, Kevin Durant is a great player, but where are his rings?
Feb. 21, 2014
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
LeBron James or Kevin Durant?
The question every NBA fan has heard and analyzed since Durant entered the league in 2007. Before Durant entered the league, the comparison was primarily between LeBron and Kobe Bryant, and before that Kobe and Michael Jordan.
You can make cases for both Durant and James as being the NBA’s best current player, but for now, James still remains on top.
The main reason LeBron gets the edge is clear. He has two NBA championships.
Championships, in the end, are what people are going to look at when they determine the overall success of a player’s career. Durant can’t seriously compete with LeBron until he gets one or two rings of his own.
LeBron also has Durant beat in the other big category, MVP. He’s racked up four Most Valuable Player awards in the past five years, only losing once to Chicago’s Derrick Rose. The way Lebron has contributed to his team both in Cleveland and Miami is unmatched in today’s era, with the exception of Durant.
Though Durant is making a better case for this years MVP, with the way his individual effort has powered his team in the absence of star point guard Russell Westbrook. He’s averaging 31.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. Those numbers are only slightly shy of Jordan’s at the ripe age of 25.
LeBron isn’t contributing as much to his team this year as he has in recent years, probably because he doesn’t have the same hunger he had when he was ringless. The scoring is more spread out amongst the Heat; as a result James is only averaging 26.5 points per game.
Scoring may be more spread out on the Heat, but James is the certainly the one running the show. What makes him the best in the business is he not only improves his own game, but consequently improves his teammates as well.
Miami’s roster is full of depth at every position, which is why they’re so great. If you take LeBron, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh off the floor, there’s an equally talented group of bench guys ready to step up and contribute. Having a player like LeBron only helps a team improve as a whole.
Durant probably takes the title of best pure shooter though. With Westbrook out he gets plenty of more chances to shoot the ball than LeBron does with as many talented players as there are on that roster. Durant has both the power to drive the lane as well as the height to shoot from the arc, a lethal combo in it of itself.
I’d take Durant in a heartbeat over LeBron in a late game situation. LeBron might be more explosive in attacking the rim, but Durant has great length and can shoot over the top of players with relative ease. Durant is shooting 41 percent from behind the 3-point line, making him one of the tops in the league in that category.
Both players lockdown on the defensive end and can match up against any player big or small. They’re averaging over seven rebounds per game apiece and are a nightmare for the players they guard.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the two players in the NBA, in that order.
KD certainly has the skill sets to challenge LeBron in the future. But for now, with his four MVP titles and two NBA championships, The King still sits atop his throne as the NBA’s best player.