The debate continues right now, right here: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, who’s better? Who would you rather start a franchise with?
It’s tough to compare the two because both are top-10 players in the league today, and both are top-five in their respective position. Also, the question of who would you rather have is totally different than who is better. Picture yourself as a general manager and you had the option of either player to build around. It’s hard to go wrong with either, but what you have to decide is would you rather build around a point guard, a small/power forward, or would you rather just take the better player?
Ok, so lets get down to the nitty gritty. Let’s begin with Russ. He is right now doing something that only one other player in the history of the game, since stats were kept, has done. He is averaging a triple-double, 31.2 points per game, 10.2 assists, and 10.5 rebounds (he leads the NBA in ppg, third in apg, and 12th in rpg). Oscar Robinson is the other player to average a triple-double for a season in 1961-62, when the rate of play was much higher than it is today, allowing for many more possessions than take place in todays game.
He is possibly the most athletic point guard to ever play the game, and just may be the most explosive player the game has ever seen. With all do respect to LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, and even Derrick Rose (pre-knee surgery), Russ is a beast, and has another gear.
While my vote sadly won’t count for this year’s MVP candidate, if he finishes the season averaging a triple-double, I don’t care what the OKC Thunder record is, he should be the unanimous winner. He is on a team that has no consistent shooters, so the fact that he can get double digit assists per night is a feat in itself. He makes any team better and a nightmare to scheme against.
I have so much respect for Westbrooks loyalty and commitment to OKC, it’s quite commendable. For KD to turn his back on the Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors because he wanted an easier road to the Finals, I lost respect for him. He basically said I’d rather not continue to fight and beat the best; I’d rather just join the best. That’s a soft move man. Soft like a… cupcake.
But putting that aside and looking at talent alone, KD is one of the most unique players the game has ever seen. He is a small forward, or shooting guard, trapped in a 7-foot body. He can score in the post, he can shoot from anywhere on the floor, and can drive to the basket.
Russ and KD are true shooters, Russ is the better passer but KD is the better shooter, plus he’s more clutch. You can’t give Durant an inch of space because he’ll knock down any shot with the smallest window. You also can’t guard him with a smaller player because he’ll post him up or shoot over the top of him, and if you put a big man on him, you open up the driving lane.
I’m aware that I have still yet to answer the question of who is the better player, keep reading:
The biggest difference is on the other end of the floor. I have continuously stuck up for Russ and his defense. He does get lazy, a lot, but he’s anticipation and quickness allows him to be an aggressive defender, which does open him up to get beat, but when he decides to lock up, he is one of the toughest guys to beat. However, Durant takes the “cake” on this end.
Not only can he guard any position because of his quickness and length, he can block shots, play the passing lane, and is harder to get around. His defensive ceiling has increased since joining the Warriors this season, and Steve Kerr deserves all the credit. He is currently blocking more shots than he ever has per game in his career, so much for the Warriors losing a rim protector.
So again, who is the better player? Even though everything points to Russ, the answer is Kevin Durant. He is simply unguardable.
When guarding the best players in the world, you want to take away one aspect of their game, or try to, to make them beat you. With Russ, if you can keep him out of the paint you have a better chance at holding him in check. But with KD, there is no part to his game you can take away and feel good about your chances.
If you keep him out of the paint he will continue to knock down the long-range shots, if you take away the deep ball, he will kill you inside. He is just too diverse to keep in check.
I love Russ. He is one of my favorite players and he plays with more heart than anyone in the league, but Kevin Durant is simply the better player.