March 7, 2014

Fightin' Words: Is LeBron or KD the better individual?


So after LeBron's big 61 point outing against Charlotte, of course ESPN went into overdrive about what this meant regarding his status in the game.

Then Russell Westbrook had to speak up after Oklahoma City's win over Philly, and now it's back on our minds once again: who is better, the King or KD?

Before I divulge, let's set a few things straight. Westbrook said after the Thunder's trouncing of the 76ers that if Durant had stayed in the game more he "could have scored 70." Well, Russell, could have, would have, should have; it doesn't matter now. The facts are Durant still scored an impressive 42 points, and LeBron's 61 points mean no less and no more.

I'm also not too big a fan of saying who is the best regarding players whose careers are still unfolding, because what is true now may not be years from now. Who knows? Maybe Durant's final years are less of an ease into retirement and basketball greatness than LeBron's, or vice versa. Maybe LeBron maintains his edge in championship rings. These things have to be considered.

So let's start with what we know now. Part of determining who is the best individual is affected by who means more to their team. While the Thunder team as a whole has solid defensive players, they really have two consistent threats in the attack: Durant and Westbrook. Durant's 31.7 points per game reflect this, while LeBron stands at 27.4.

James attempts less shots (17.4) and makes less shots (10.1) than James, yet maintains a 58 percent shooting average compared to Durant's 51 percent. But look into this further, and things get a little less concrete. Durant tops LeBron in both three-point shooting (39.5 percent) while taking and making more. He also leads in free-throw shooting (87.4 percent), also while taking and making more. It appears the midrange game is the one place LeBron excels.

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