LeBron Raymone James and Kevin Wayne Durant: Two absolutely amazing basketball specimens. LeBron James is 27 years old, 6-8”, and 240 pounds. That is about the same size as the all-time great power forward, Karl Malone. Kevin Durant is 24 years old, 6-9’, 215 pounds. He is long, lanky, and can score at will. They are the best of the best at what they do. But who is the better NBA player: King James or Durantula?
Let’s take a look at James’ game. He is known for filling up the stat sheet in every way possible, and his averages this year confirm that: 25.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 6.7 APG, and 1.3 SPG. He is nearly averaging a triple double. Kevin Durant has only recorded one triple double in his entire career (so far). LeBron has managed to record 30. That is good for the 7th most triple doubles of all-time.
Just to give you some perspective on how impressive 30 triple doubles is, consider that James’ 30 triple doubles are more than what Michael Jordan or Clyde Drexler had in their entire careers. Keep in mind LeBron is currently playing his 10th season in the league and both Jordan and Drexler played 15 seasons. Needless to say, LeBron should be considered one of the greats in this aspect of the game. Nobody in the game today can fill a stat sheet like King James. Nobody.
As impressive as James’ stats are, Durant’s can hold their own. I believe he is the best pure scorer in the NBA today. Nobody scores with the same sense of ease or efficiency of Durant. The numbers speak for themselves: 27.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 1.5 SPG. Durant also has a true shooting percentage, or TS%, of 64.8%. TS% is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account 2-pointers, 3-pointers, and free throws. It gives us a true sense of how efficient a shooter a certain player is. Durant’s TS% of 64.8% is solid and above average. In comparison, at 60.1%, LeBron is still above average in the TS% department but clearly is not as effective as Durant.
We know that both these players can easily “get theirs”, but how much better do they make their respective teams? A stat that helps us gauge this is called win shares per 48 minutes or WS/48. What is that exactly? WS/48 is an advanced stat that estimates how many wins a certain player contributes to their respective team. It takes into account the various things a basketball player does to win or lose a game and weighs them appropriately to provide a “win share”. Essentially, this stat takes into account everything a player does and converts it to a percentage of wins for the team. The average WS/48 for a player in the NBA is roughly 10%. LeBron James’ WS/48 is 26% which is definitely impressive. What’s even more impressive is Durant’s 28%. That’s right – Durant is responsible for winning more games than LeBron.
Taking all these numbers, stats, and averages into account, I believe they show that Durant is a better, more effective player than LeBron. He is a more efficient scorer and he contributes more wins to his team. A number most overlooked when comparing these two players is their age. LeBron turns 28 at the end of this month, while Durant recently turned 24. We are witnessing LeBron in the prime of his career while the best for Durant has yet to come. One thing is for sure: when it does, it will surely be something to witness.
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