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Home - Should There Be A LeBron Vs. Durant Debate?

  Should There Be A LeBron Vs. Durant Debate?

We’re constantly 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 edge?

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 jamesLeBron 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.

kevin durantAnd 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.

This debate is far from over.

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