Sitting on the Throne
It’s an interesting take I’m sure, to most—nobody is giving Kevin Durant a remote chance to supplant the great LeBron James in the Greatest of All Time debate! I know LeBron is so amazing, and the perfect representative for the NBA, while KD is more known for his sensitive media sessions and burner accounts. But what if I showed you the path for KD to become known as the best player ever?
It’s going to take some work starting with this season, but let’s say Durant was to win another ring this year along with a third Finals MVP. He would then be tied with LeBron, with three rings and three Finals MVPs. Now, James has other accolades that bring out his amazing resume, but what he no longer has is time. LeBron’s time as the lead guy on a championship team has all but dwindled. Even if he were to somehow win another ring, he would need someone like Anthony Davis to join him—and with AD in the middle of his prime and LeBron showing huge signs of decline (and going on 35 years old), I can only envision LeBron playing Robin to Davis’ Batman.
We have seen this firsthand in the 2019 season, as the iron man himself has missed time with his first significant injury. He has returned to the court promising his fans—and his haters—a playoff activation for the remaining NBA games in the regular season, but the sad thing is we have yet to see it. With his defense being nonexistent, and with the Lakers losing to teams that most superstars would handle on their own, it becomes unacceptable and almost unexplainable to lose to Memphis and Phoenix when you’re playing for everything—and the Lakers are, in fact, now playing to increase their draft placing. I don’t know if we can ever call him playoff LeBron again.
Now, let me take you on a journey to show you how Durant can eclipse LeBron and become a top-two player of all time.
It’s a simple equation that involves age; Durant is only thirty years old and on his way to a third consecutive title as a heavy favorite to win, is younger than LeBron James, and is showing no signs of slowing down. The magic number here is four: Four years younger, four titles, and four Finals MVPs. Four of those would push him above LeBron.
The Finals MVPs are very important here. While being on such an amazing team, in order for Durant to separate himself from the “riding along” argument he will always have to be the best player in the playoffs. This is a task I think he is up for and in the past has already done, with efficiency that makes it look effortless. In fact, some analysts argue Durant was trying to help Curry win his first Finals MVP in game four of the 2018 NBA Finals, but he was so efficient and productive overall that voters could not ignore Durant as the series’ best player. His career Finals average is third best all-time at 32 points per game. This includes his year he was a youngster at 23 on the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he still averaged 30 ppg on 51% shooting. If Durant can be the top dog on a team that wins four in a row, he will achieve something that MJ and Bron never achieved: four consecutive titles.
Now, there’s speculation that Durant might opt out of his contract and become a free agent, and rumor has it he may be interested in New York. My personal opinion is he may go to the Knicks to take on a new challenge, yet winning four in a row could still be an option depending on what the Knicks’ first round pick becomes and who may join him. It would be unlikely due to the chemistry and roster, but you can never count out the team with the best player in world.
The Knicks have room for two max salary players, a young core that includes Dennis Smith Jr, Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox, and if they can land Zion it would make them an instant favorite to come out of the east, in my eyes. If Durant were to win that fourth title in a row in New York it would be legendary. If he goes to NY and brings one title there during his tenure he will make it into the conversation as the best player ever, since bringing a title to the most popular franchise yearning for a championship since 1973 would be legendary in itself. We’re talking 46 years of misery for a historic franchise, suddenly being brought back to relevancy.
LeBron is another key to this, because he has somehow surpassed every great other than Jordan and is being argued right below MJ on the all-time list (and to some right above). Now, if Kevin Durant becomes the clear-cut pick as the better player and contains a better resume than LeBron, you would need to push Durant above everyone else and into the conversation of KD vs MJ. Like LeBron, Durant will pass MJ in scoring, and is in fact close to the same pace LeBron is on to catch Kareem. This all rides on Durant being healthy and dominant and I believe he will achieve these accomplishments. Maybe not four in a row, but I believe Durant will end his career with four-plus titles and four-plus Finals MVPs to go with his regular season MVP and possibly more scoring titles—on top of the four he already has.
I’ve ranked Durant as the best overall NBA player for several years now, and with LeBron on the brink of missing the playoffs in his first stint in the western conference, it has only validated how much tougher it is to build a legacy in the West and demonstrated why my case for Durant actually holds merit. Only time will determine what accomplishments these players will achieve, but my money is on Durant. He’s in the middle of his prime and his game will age much like a fine wine.
Durant won’t lose his jump shot or his height, and his ability to play off-ball around other talented players makes him even more likely to be relevant for the duration of his career. When it’s all said and done, my guess is Durant will have somewhere around five to six titles, five to six Finals MVPs, six scoring titles, two MVPs and will be the all-time scoring leader in NBA history over none other than Lebron James—cementing Durant’s legacy over Lebron, and sitting on top of the throne as the real king of the NBA.