- Should There Be
A LeBron Vs. Durant Debate?
There Be A LeBron Vs. Durant Debate?
discussing legacies these days as if we can forecast the arc of a
player’s career. Case in point is this on-going debate between Kevin
Durant and LeBron James, two athletes who are in the prime of their
careers and will forever be compared to one another. So who has the
I’m not totally sure how to answer this question. If we’re comparing
these guys in a “tale of the tape” format, then James would win hands
down. Durant is in line to win his first MVP award this season, which
pales in comparison to the four MVP’s that James has collected. That
is, of course, unless you remember that James won his first MVP in his
sixth season as a pro. The 2013-14 season is Durant’s seventh.
LeBron has simply accomplished more in the NBA because he’s had more time to. The trajectory of
Durant’s career, when compared to LeBron’s, is the much more intriguing
angle in this debate. The ultimate problem with arguing the merits of
Durant vs. LeBron is that the latter had a four year head start in the
pros. So how did each of them start their respective careers?
In LeBron’s first six seasons as a pro he
accomplished the following: Rookie of the Year, one MVP (2009), one NBA
All-Defensive first team (2009), two NBA All-Star Game MVP’s, two
All-NBA First Teams and one NBA scoring championship title (2008), six
time NBA All-Star and a losing NBA Finals appearance.
By comparison, this is Kevin Durant’s first six seasons in the NBA:
Rookie of the Year, one NBA All-Star Game MVP (2012), four All-NBA
First Teams, three NBA scoring championship titles (2010-12), five time
NBA-All Star and a losing NBA Finals appearance.
That’s relatively even if you ask me.
And here’s the whacky part about
all of this: Kevin Durant always seems to be one year behind LeBron
James. KD went to college for one year while LeBron came out of
high school (the rules had something to do with that, but there’s no
telling if Durant would’ve skipped college had he been given the
choice). LeBron won his first MVP in his sixth season, while Durant
looks to be on course to win his first during his seventh. James also
went his first NBA Finals in his fourth year, while it took Durant five
to get there himself. Durant’s career is taking just as much time as
James’s did. That’s the point I’m trying to make.
Remember that asking who is “better” isn’t the same as asking who I
prefer. LeBron James is a basketball god and perhaps the greatest
athlete ever born. He makes up for inconsistencies in his shooting by
being an all out boss on defense. And when LeBron wants to take over a
game, he just does it.
That’s something that Durant has begun to show,
especially this season. Durant’s defensive abilities are often
dismissed but he’s right up there with the best of them. Durant is the
best two-way player in the league (sorry Paul George) behind LeBron. The main difference is
that KD is nowhere near the physical specimen that LeBron is. Durant is
never the most explosive, strongest or fastest player on the court.
After he left college, he notoriously couldn’t complete one rep of the
185 pound bench press. He’s gone from a pencil necked kid to a sturdy
rebar while LeBron went from being Clark Kent to Superman. And in this
regard, Durant’s path to superstardom has been much more uphill.
With the totality of their careers in mind, LeBron has the obvious edge
over Durant. His Heat are also the leading commodity set by oddsmakers
as favorites at +180 to win the NBA Championship, followed by the
Indiana Pacers at +250 and Durant’s Thunder at +350. LeBron is the
rightful King of the NBA. Just remember that it took him about six or
seven seasons before he began to carve out his actual legacy in the NBA.
That means exactly what you think it means – the
best of Kevin Durant is yet to come.