During the next 10 years we will have the pleasure of watching two basketball greats battle it out for every scoring title, MVP, and of course, championship. LeBron and Durant are undoubtedly the best players in the NBA, but what there IS doubt about, is who’s better between the two. So we decided to solve that question by asking “who is better to build a franchise around, Durant or LeBron?”. Want to know the answer? Read below and find out.
And once you’ve done that, vote for whoever you agree with on the poll below the article. The author who gets the most votes in the poll gets $5, so vote wisely!!
[one_half] By: Kenny Scheng
Undoubtedly the best professional basketball player during the past year. Winning an MVP, a NBA Championship, Finals MVP, and most recently an Olympic gold… Need I say more? Probably not. But I am going to anyway! You can hate and criticize LeBron all you want. You can not take away from what the man has accomplished.
Why LeBron is better to build around:
At age 27, LeBron has accomplished things that rank him with the greats such as Oscar Robertson and even the great Michael Jordan. The scariest part. He gets better every year. A knock on LeBron is that he needs another superstar to win. Every team needs a proven star to excel in the modern NBA. This is simply a fact. Not only do they need a proven superstar, they need help. No NBA team can go out during an 82 game season with average (at best) supporting players. LeBron led the Cavaliers to 5, 45+ win seasons. This all happened with an abundance of mediocre players. Who is one memorable player LeBron has played with? 38 year old Shaq? Maybe Carlos Boozer his rookie season. C’mon. These aren’t very good players. Also, LeBron has averaged at least 6 assists since his sophomore season while only having one players average more than 15 points per game. (Mo Williams 2008-2009) LeBron makes every surrounding player better. In Cleveland, LeBron advanced as far as the NBA Finals!
I understand he was swept by the over-powering talent loaded San Antonio Spurs, but c’mon! To broaden the spectrum of his feats in Cleveland: Michael Jordan’s (pre-Scottie Pippen) furthest playoff run was to the 1988-89 Eastern Conference Finals. The most amount of regular season wins by his Bull teams, 50. LeBron had 62 in Cleveland. The man put 11 guys on his back for 7 years. What he was able to do with the Cavaliers franchise is truly amazing. Look what happened when he left! 19-63, a .232 win percentage. Ask any NBA GM who they would take in a start-from-scratch NBA draft with all players eligible, any team would take him first overall. Even Dan Gilbert would take him… Maybe thats a stretch.
On the Court:
Well. 3x MVP, 8x All-Star, 5x All-NBA , 4x All-Defensive team. Not much more too it. LeBron consistently outperforms standards. He has averaged more than 26 points per season (excluding his rookie campaign). Over 7 rebounds per game. 6 assists… Not many players in today’s game can do all three. Actually not one player averaged these numbers last season… except none other than… The King himself. Not only does LeBron just stuff the stat sheets. He also does it very efficiently. He shoots a career 48% from the floor and 33% from downtown. Not too bad. LeBron is known best for his amazing point-forward abilities and has drawn comparisons to Magic Johnson and even the Big O (Oscar Robertson). If any team was given LeBron James’s talents they would see an increase drastically in wins. Thats without a question. Even with all of the criticism of LeBron I have never heard anyone complain about his motor and his passion. My biggest problem of all: this talk about his “clutch gene” is ridiculous. He is a basketball player first. He will make the basketball play. If he went one on five we would still complain.
All in all:
The least amount of wins by Durant in a single season, 20. LeBron, 35. Winning is what it comes down to. LeBron can has taken a team to the NBA Finals with and without help. [/one_half]
[one_half_last] By: Sean McKenney
Kevin Durant has quickly made himself into one of the NBA’s biggest superstars. In a world of superstar athletic talent, and excellent promoters, we as fans often overlook greatness when we see it. Kevin Durant is a fine example. He is what I like to call a “working man’s” baller. Durant was never in a dunk contest, he is not a very polarizing figure, and he isn’t even very well built. Quite frankly, it looks as though someone took a normal sized human being and put him through a taffy stretcher. Simply put, there is nothing flashy about Durant. But that man does work, night in and night out.
The beauty of Durant is his versatility. He can shoot the three ball, drive successfully, play solid defense, and lead a team. Don’t get me wrong, LeBron James is capable of doing all of those things. If you don’t believe me, watch this year’s playoffs as he and his Miami Heat beat Kevin Durant his Oklahoma City Thunder. But the thing that stands out to me about Durant is that he has not reached his ceiling.
I’m not saying Durant single-handedly carried his team into the NBA Finals, but he sure as heck had a lot to do with it. Durant is only 23 years old and still has a ways to go before reaching his prime. Many people pointed out he is inexperienced. I happen to agree. But in the argument of becoming a centerpiece for a team, this actually helps Durant. If an inexperienced Kevin Durant takes his team into the NBA Finals, only to lose, imagine what a more playoff-savvy Durant looks like. There’s only so far you can go from there, and that is a banner-ceremony. Dirk Nowitzki has even come out to the media saying Durant is “way ahead of his curve” when Nowitzki was 23. Besides the reasoning of his pure potential, look at Durant’s stats. Durant averaged 28 points per game last season, having to compete with the shot-happy Russell Westbrook, as well as James Harden. This is not to say Durant is a ball hog, but that he gets the most out of every possession. Durant’s precision and seemingly endless shooting ability bring me to my next reason as to why Kevin Durant is the perfect centerpiece for an NBA team: The Clutch Gene.
I’ll try to choke back the desire to make LeBron jokes here. In all seriousness, when the game is on the line, you want the ball in Kevin Durant’s gigantic hands. Durant lives up to his solid reputation as being clutch. In a midseason game against the divisional rivals Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Durant was impervious to Kevin Love’s 51 points, as he sunk both the game tier and winner, to carry the Thunder to a double overtime victory, and probably many Thunder fans to heart attacks.
For Durant to be displaying the clutch gene so powerfully so often proves that he is the best person to build a team around. Durant is such an excellent centerpiece because he can thrive under such odd conditions. One of the team’s best players comes off the bench; he has to cohabitate with a scoring-based PG, as well as a foul-happy front court. Just the same, Durant delivers. It is clear Durant is a perfect franchise centerpiece is because he is one. Contrast to LeBron in Miami, where it is unclear as to who “The Man” is. Durant displays the skills of an older player in a younger and more capable body. You want to build a team? Kevin Durant is your boy.[/one_half_last]