Ranking the 50 greatest NBA players of all time

The Last Dance, Michael Jordan, LeBron James (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The Last Dance, Michael Jordan, LeBron James (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images /

13. Kevin Durant

  • Resume: 12 seasons, 2 NBA championships, 2 NBA Finals MVP Award, 1 regular season MVP Award, 9-time All-NBA selection, 10-time NBA All-Star, 2-time NBA All-Star Game MVP, Rookie of the Year Award, 4-time NBA leader in scoring, 1-time 50-40-90 club member
  • Stats: 27.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG, .493/.381/.883 shooting splits, 25.2 career PER, 141.7 win shares

Forget about how Kevin Durant got his first title by joining the super-team Golden State Warriors. Once he added two NBA championships to his name, he officially became one of the 25 greatest players of all time.

That declaration may seem a bit hasty, but in his first 12 years in the association, KD established himself as quite possibly the most unstoppable scorer in league history. He’s a seven-footer with the ability to put the ball on the floor, pull up from anywhere, turn around and get a shot off over anyone, attack the basket, finish above the rim, drain 3-pointers, pass to the open man and at his peak, he even brought All-NBA caliber defense and rim protection to the other end.

Say what you want about how he got his titles, but KD was a perfect fit for the Warriors dynasty, and he earned everything he got in 2016-17. His Finals MVP honors came behind 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.0 steals per game on .556/.474/.927 shooting splits.

Some even went as far as saying he snatched the title of “NBA alpha dog” from LeBron when his Game 3 dagger over the King himself all but put the series away.

That ultimately proved to be incorrect based on the 2017-18 season, but Durant probably isn’t losing sleep over another NBA title, another Finals MVP award and a sweep over LeBron’s outmatched Cavs team. He also became the second-youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 career points.

It’s not just the titles that bump him so far up the list, however. He’s got a regular season MVP Award, two Finals MVPs, an eye-popping career stat line, dozens of game-winners and signature moments, and has been a perennial All-Star and All-NBA selection for almost his entire career.

The achievements felt like they were just going to keep coming until his brutal Achilles injury in the 2019 NBA Finals, which arguably cost Golden State a three-peat. The world had to hold its breath for a year, waiting to see how he would recover after missing an entire season rehabbing a notoriously devastating injury, but now that he’s suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets, he looks like his old self … when he’s available, that is.

KD is still on pace to be one of the league’s all-time leading scorers if he can return as his fully healthy self, but even if he doesn’t, his 2013-14 season is right up there among the all-time great MVP campaigns. That year, the former Oklahoma City Thunder superstar averaged 32.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game on .510/.416/.905 shooting splits to join the 50-40-90 club in the process.

Though he and Russell Westbrook never broke through and won a championship together, the Thunder really set those wheels in motion when they traded James Harden instead of paying up to keep a potential dynasty intact. KD’s departure obviously closed the window for good, but he remains quite possibly the greatest player in OKC franchise history.

After years of falling short in the postseason due to injuries and inexplicable late-game collapses, KD could hardly be blamed for seeking the best situation for himself. After all, it was LeBron who originally set the stage for that kind of player empowerment in free agency, which is still often frowned upon for some odd reason.

In any case, now that he’s had his time with the Warriors — an idyllic fit for his two-way versatility — the Slim Reaper can rest easy knowing he finally broke through and climbed to the top of the mountain. The Dub’ reign may finally be over, but even if Durant never played another fully healthy season from here on out, he’s done more than enough to warrant his place this high up the list. And if he and James Harden win a title with the Nets, who knows? He may still have a few spots to climb.