Let me lead by saying this has been a real challenge. First of all trying to establish how to break down an NBA player. Then locking in and doing the work, as objectively as possible measuring the players against each other and the NBA respectively. This whole thing started with an argument on Twitter with loads of people weighing in on “who is the best NBA player right now”. The mutual consensus was that LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard were the four best. And those are the players I have broken down into 14 different categories.
To make sure as many as possible agree on the way I have done this, over 500 people participated in a poll on Twitter voting “how to emphasise offence vs defence”. Over 70% said a 60/40 split in favour of offence was the way to go. So thats what I have I done. Then to make sure to cover every angle, I have added a 3rd category with four points, “the Extras”. Hope you enjoy the read.
– Basket Regards. Magnus Barstad (follow me on Twitter @MagnusBarstad)
14 points of breaking down the Second Coming, Kevin Durant
- Long distance & FTs (3s and long 2s)
The best shooter I have ever seen at his size from distance. Shooting a sensational 44.2% from three in the Playoffs. Excellent at the line at just under 90% every season.
- Close to the basket
Handles the ball like an elite point guard. And he is a legit 7’0”. Impossible to stop when he gets going towards the basket. Can shoot undisturbed over any player in the league if you try to shut down his driving lanes. Great touch around the basket.
Once he moved away from OKC and Scott Brooks terrible ISO ball offense KD has shown that there is a lot more tools in the toolbox. Really stepping up his passing game. He has had seasons with good assist numbers as a member of the OKC as well. But that was in large part passing when he could not find his shot. Durant has played a more fluent style of basketball in GSW and his 4.9 APG has been within the flow of the offense.
- Controlling the game
Durant is an impossible cover so this allows him to control games at will. He has the ability to decide that “I am taking over now”, or I am drawing a defender or two then taking a step back. His unprecedented scoring demands so much attention and respect from defenders.
- Unstoppable move(s)
KD coming down the floor, going side to side handling the ball like Kyrie Irving. Good night. There is no answer. He can beat you a million ways. If he wants to score 35, he will score 35. End of story.
- His ability to handle pressure and double teams
Really showed up in the Finals showing his determination and ability to handle the big stage. That three point shot in the face of LeBron James completing the comeback in game 3 was out of this world. Can handle any kinds of double teams or whatever is thrown at him. Quick, smart, strong and a willing passer if he doesn’t just rise up and shot over the defender(s).
Offence total: 57/60
- Man to man guarding
Has really shown up as a man to man defender. Guarding LeBron James and giving him a very hard time in the Finals. His length and how hard he competes is a problem for almost any matchup he has. Not the strongest player, but he is more than quick enough to avoid having to guard stronger big men a lot.
- Flexibility and switching
At 7’6” KD has one of the biggest wing spans in the NBA. His arms along with his smartness gives him flexibility to handle different looks on the defensive end. He might not have the strength to bang with bigger bodies all the time and he is too tall to guard PGs all game long. But for his size, he is very flexible. No one will have the ball against Durant and start yelling “mismatch”.
- Defensive leadership
Durant showed us once again on the biggest stage that he is a defence presence and a leader. Sets the tone blocking shots and staying active, getting deflections and steals. Competes very hard and that is always an inspiration to the rest of the team, when an offensive talent like KD gets down and dirty on the defensive end.
- Protecting the paint or the perimeter
Averages 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks a game this season. Strong numbers for any SF. His extreme length and quickness gives him a huge advantage for a 7-footer. As he is able to cover a lot of ground while blocking off space with his arms. Gets the job done on both the perimeter and around the basket.
Defence total 33/40
Mostly KD is well liked around the league. His ego is bigger than what people think. It’s part of what makes him an absolute killer on the court. But can also make him a bit difficult. Seems more light spirited after the move to GSW and it looks like he is enjoying his team and his team mates more than before. Giving a lot of “energy to the ball” making the right plays when scoring very efficiently for GSW. Got into the face of LeBron and showed everyone that he isn’t afraid of the King. Did not back down. Situations like that tends to fire up team mates a lot. Works hard in practice and in games.
Was one of two young leaders in OKC and then came into a very established GSW team with great and strong leaders in Curry, Draymond and Iggy. When put under too much pressure he has a history of not always saying the right thing. KD is at his best when he lets his game and effort do the talking. Since becoming a part of the Warriors its evident to me that Durant is more comfortable with others taking bigger leadership roles. Realizing that is a skill in itself, but at the end of the day KD is not the complete leader for me.
Having a career year rebounding this season with 8.3 RPG. As the best players typically are able to, KD can “force” more rebounds in big games when he needs. Great timing and length makes up for what he lacks in weight and muscle.
One of the great shot makers in the history of the game. Four time scoring champion in 9 years. Seems to almost “get hot” at will. A very rare skill. Can kill off games with the best of them. Just lethal.
10/10Extra total 34/40
140 points of Kevin Durant = 124/140
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