By: Opinionated MJ
Is Kevin Durant truly the best player in the world? Russell Westbrook thinks so. He let it fly out his mouth right after he led the Thunder to an opening night win over the Spurs. Let’s break this down a bit and figure if this can be proven across the board.
Kevin Durant is arguably one of the top 3 scorers in the game along with Stephen Curry and Carmelo Anthony. If I had to pick, right now, I’d put him third. Yes third. He’s not as effective a shooter as Curry from distance and he hasn’t yet become a force once he gets in the paint like Anthony. Anthony can start in the perimeter area and work himself all the way to the rim by grinding his way there with post moves. It’s not fair to judge him after just one game this season but we do measure players by success against great defenders. Kawhi Leonard simply denied Kevin and many of the Thunder anything easy.
I’m going to get straight to the point with this topic by saying that I have not seen Durant lock down anyone and I haven’t seen him play defense that limits the opponent’s best player or the opponent’s best 2 way player. He didn’t stop Kawhi tonight, I haven’t seen him make Carmelo uncomfortable, LeBron, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, I could go on. So is he like James Harden with defense? No, but he definitely isn’t Scottie Pippen.
Does he make his teammates better?
I don’t know if I could say he’s even better than Russell when it comes to this. Yes, I’ve seen Durant make his teammates better, when Russell was down which was the reason he won an MVP award. He definitely made the team better two seasons ago but not so much when everyone is healthy. His presence does allow for better spacing for shooters that share the floor with him and for Russell to dart wherever he pleases at will. One game doesn’t tell it but we’ll see in about a month or two. Right now, Russell is bringing it on a nightly basis, creating opportunities for others, setting his teammates up and also putting his team is position to score. This comes down to one thing though, chemistry and rhythm. Durant didn’t play much with the new faces of the team. Russell nearly willed them to the post-season. Durant makes his teammates better but in order for him to win another MVP, of course he has to score, set his teammates up, get at least 7 assists per game and make it look pretty. It’s called the LeBron rule.
I think I’ve covered enough to say that Durant is probably tied for second with LeBron in the newly minted MVP race. Steph Curry is clearly the front runner, yes, after one game. He’s defending his honor. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins fill out that top 5 in the MVP race in my honest opinion, with Westbrook and Harden right there too. Interesting MVP race we’ll have if they all stay healthy. So to answer Russell Westbrook’s claim that Durant is the best in the world, well, nothing is given. Unfortunately, Durant was out much of last year. He’s in line again and just like everyone else, he has to earn it.