Sportswriters are stupid. I know that. It's a hiring prerequisite. But, my goodness, this? I gotta come out of hibernation.
Can Durant overtake James?
Thesis: Kevin Durant is inferior to LeBron James at basketball, but still might be the better player, pending playoff outcomes.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant were in a tug-of-war for the MVP award all season long, at least on my ballot.
Your ballot was filled out by a stupid person. Shame on you for tricking that stupid person into filling out preliminary ballots for you, Jerk Broussard.
James grabbed the early lead with his phenomenal all-around play, but Durant moved ahead when the Miami Heat began struggling against elite teams.
Oh, so my whole "Chris Broussard outsourced his MVP ballot throughout the season" theory is debunked. He is the stupid person we've been waiting for. By this logic, Ben Gordon should be MVP.
And James' was better, so he won.
Brilliant reasoning. So this article is done, right? Oh...
James is the best player in the world. It's very clear to me, and, I think, to most. We've never seen his combination of size, speed, quickness, strength, skill, passing ability, court vision and versatility. But after eight years, he is ringless, and that matters.
It matters a lot. For example, he drafted himself onto one of the worst teams in the NBA, signed Antawn Jamison, and hired a poor-man's Al Roker to be his coach. Really stupid decisions, that fellow made.
So what if James finishes his ninth season ringless? And what if that ring instead goes to Durant? Would that enable Durant to supplant James as the best player in basketball?
No. By your own definition. See, Chris, you just said LeBron James is the best player in the world, and then quickly proceeded to enumerate all the standards by which this is so.
If Durant leads the Thunder to a title, perhaps even beating James' Heat in the process, that would not mean he'd suddenly become a better all-around player than James. Simply put, he would not. But being the best isn't about winning on a checklist of attributes and abilities. It's about impact.
So being the best player is not about being the better player? Instead, it is about impact? Do better players not have more impact than inferior players?
Shaquille O'Neal didn't have as many skills as David Robinson, but he was a better player because he had more of an impact.
David Robinson was the better player because he was better at the game of basketball. Shaquille O'Neal had more of an impact because he did not serve in the military. Not only is this example absurd, but it pretty much makes Chris Broussard an unpatriotic douche.
Charles Barkley's numbers during his prime are better than Tim Duncan's, but Duncan ranks higher because of his impact.
Barkley's numbers during his prime are only better if you don't care about defense or durability.
Of course, we measure impact by championship wins. So it would be hard to deny Durant the title of world's best player if he indeed won it all at the age of 23.
It would be very easy to do so. For example, I could point out James Harden is exactly as good as Kevin Durant. Also, I could point out LeBron is way better.
Winning the ring doesn't always make the champion's best player the top dog.
Correct. Thank you for negating what you just said.
When Dwyane Wade willed Miami to victory over the Dallas Mavericks back in 2006 with an aging O'Neal, he wasn't viewed as being better than Kobe Bryant or even James at that point.
He was better than both at that point. Who was doing the considering? You, Chris Broussard?
But there would be reasons to consider Durant the best if he pushes Oklahoma City atop the throne. And, make no mistake, he has to be the one doing most of the pushing.
I think you just made a mistake. James Harden is exactly as good as Kevin Durant by a very prominent metric easily available to anyone who searches for basketball on the Internet. Harden could do most of the pushing, and the Thunder will be just fine.
if Russell Westbrook performs better than Durant throughout the playoffs (not just in the Finals), that could have an impact on whether or not Durant becomes perceived as the league's top player.
Considering we are basing this judgment entirely on, like, ten games, I suppose.
First, Durant would be leading an incredibly young group of players to the mountaintop. At 23, he's one of the Thunder's old men. Westbrook is 23. James Harden and Serge Ibaka are 22. Those are the Thunder's four best players.
All entering their athletic peaks. Consider that LeBron has been saddled with a constantly hobbling Zydrunas Ilgauskas for most of his career. Of course, Big Z's, um, experience made up for his not being Westbrook/Ibaka/Harden combined.
Leading such a young crew at such a young age to a title would be something that Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, O'Neal, Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon never did.
Duncan was 22.
Again. Duncan was 22.
Beyond that, Durant would have done so in an era when elite teams were stacked with stars.
Some legends (not most, but some) say Jordan dominated a watered-down era.
Which legends? The ones who got beat by Jordan in the watered-down era? If anything, the league was watered down by virtue of Jordan's curious mid-90s retirement.
And to be honest, the 1990s teams were not as power-packed as those of the '80s, when several Hall of Famers played together as teammates in Los Angeles, Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia.
Durant was barely even born in the 1980s. What does this have to do with anything?
Now, we are in the era of Big Threes. The Lakers have a still great Bryant, plus Pau Gasol in his prime and Andrew Bynum beginning his prime.
Kobe Bryant is no better now than Dan Majerle was when he played with Barkley. I don't expect Broussard to know this, because he is paid to write about basketball, and therefore knows nothing about the sport, but it is true.
The Boston Celtics, old as well, have three Hall of Famers and a potential fourth in the making in Rajon Rondo. Miami, of course, has its trio.
So, aging Tom Chambers doesn't count, but aging Ray Allen (not to mention Danny Ainge) counts. I guess, when you are making up stuff.
And while analysts lament Miami's lack of inside punch, what about Oklahoma's lack?
Serge Ibaka is one of the best defenders in the game.
Further, Durant would also be doing it without a true point guard in the starting lineup. While Westbrook is awesome, his decision-making often leaves a lot to be desired.
Westbrook: TOV 14%, A/TO 1.5/1
Chalmers: TOV 21%, A/TO 1.6/1
One thing that separates Durant from many of today's greatest players (it's also what allows him to play well with Westbrook) is that he doesn't dominate the ball. James, Wade, Bryant and Carmelo Anthony all dominate the ball, which can make it hard to match teammates with them. That isn't the case with Durant. Is there anyone you can't imagine him playing with?
Durant was 5th in usage rate this season. James 3rd, Wade 6th, Bryant 1st, Anthony 4th and Westbrook 2nd. I could see any of those players doing well with each other except for Kobe. Broussard did not bother to do even cursory research before he wrote this thing.
In addition, a Thunder ring this year would perhaps be the start of the league's next dynasty. Durant and Westbrook, who would replace James and Wade as the world's best duo, are locked up for years.
Why would they replace James and Wade as the best duo? You are begging the question, Broussard, and you do not know what that means, and you will not even Google it.
So is Perkins. And even though it would ban the Thunder to luxury-tax hell, I would think a championship would lead them to give Harden and Ibaka the loot they deserve, too.
Broussard just said Perkins and Ibaka form a frontline that is comparable to that of the Heat. So, the loot those two deserve is... Slightly above the league minimum?
To find a cautionary tale, all you have to do is go back five seasons to when James was annihilating Detroit in The Palace, leading an unheralded and largely untalented cast of Cleveland Cavaliers past the ballyhooed and championship-proven Detroit Pistons as a 22-year-old.
Unfortunately, he had little impact. In fact, Boobie Gibson is pretty much the best player in the history of the Cavaliers.
I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that in 2012 James would still not have a ring. Honestly, I thought he'd have at least two and probably more by now.
But let's all take on faith your assessment of player value. You're doing a great job with that
So let's let this thing play out first. But if the way it plays out is with Durant averaging 30 points per game in a postseason that ends with an Oklahoma City title, it might be hard to argue that the skinny scorer in OKC is not the baddest baller on the planet.
He is averaging 26 ppg. If he averages 30 ppg from here on out, OKC probably won't make it past the second round. I do appreciate Broussard's advice we allow this thing to play out. That's sensible. I, for one, recommend we see how the Major League Baseball season goes on for a spell.
But, good grief, If you think Durant is remotely close to being the best player in basketball, you should be predicting the Thunder to win the championship, because that is what they would do if he were better than LeBron James.
This was the dumbest thing ever written.