Since he came in the league, LeBron James has steadily climbed the NBA ranks until he earned the moniker as the best in the world. Kobe Bryant‘s phenomenal play delayed James’ crowning for years, but age and a horrible Los Angeles Lakers‘ team has catapulted LeBron ahead of Kobe. Since LeBron has been a top the rankings, one player has slowly started to surpass him - Kevin Durant.
Not much really separates these two players now, but it was clear that James was the more talented player for many years prior. Both men averaged 20 points per game during their rookie campaigns, each earning Rookie of the Year honors. LeBron’s second season made the difference in the conversation of who was the better talent. LeBron was a man, even as a kid, and Durant’s growth was impressive but not spectacular.
Years have passed and now the conversation of who is the best is tighter than ever. James’ championship rings have become the only solid evidence for his case; meanwhile Durant’s skill and talent have become the prime suspects. There is no doubt that having those rings separates you, but when you watch Durant, you cannot help but to think that he is approaching legendary status as the leader of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
A closer look reveals that James’ numbers are down all across the board. He is averaging 26 points per game — the lowest since his rookie season. His 6.7 rebounds match his second lowest totals in a season and his assists per game are lower than his career average. The only thing keeping him alive in the MVP race with Durant is his name and biased fan base.
In Durant’s case, his numbers are higher than ever. He has been outstanding this season — playing at a higher level than any player in the league has thus far. KD is averaging a career high 30.6 points on only 19 shot attempts per game. LeBron shot the ball more than 23 times a night for his career high of 31 points per night during the 2005-06 NBA season. KD is also putting up career numbers in assists with five per game, along with 7.9 rebounds. I should also mention Durant has more total wins with far less help than James has with the Miami Heat, especially without Russell Westbrook to back him up.
I can understand if there are fans out there that are not ready to call KD the best just yet, and I can respect their opinions because he does indeed need to prove himself more. That proof is coming soon enough as he continues to dominate in the month a January, where he is averaging around 35 points per game. Over the last two weeks, Durant as three games with 48 points or more — stats that seemingly come with ease for the three time scoring champion.
Durant may have already secured the scoring title as the next man up is averaging nearly four points less per game. Durant has overcome all adversity while Westbrook sits and his legacy is only getting stronger with each passing week. Whether it is now or a little further down the road, Durant is going to be the best player in the NBA.