Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kevin Durant vs Kobe

Tyler Troiano
Mr. Kefor
    There have been many superstars that have been in the professional basketball league throughout its existence. From the beginning of Wilt Chamberlin to Bill Russel to the Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson era. Even in the 90’s with Michael Jordan and the star studded Bulls. Now the NBA is loaded with superstars and great scorers. In the NBA today, Kevin Durant is the most prominent scorer. He can score from almost all areas of the court, and at this point he is the most unguardable player in the league. Many NBA analysts believe he is the best scorer the NBA has seen ever. Others argue that Kobe was better when he was in the prime of his career. The question that many have started to ask is who is the more dominant player in the prime of their careers, Kobe or Durant?
    How does one measure dominance? is it by scoring? or championships? There Now obviously Durant is still young and no one knows yet if he has hit his prime. That’s a very scary thought that he could get better. Kobe has hit already passed his prime, and proved his dominance. He could not only score at an insane rate, but he also won 5 NBA championships in his career. KD has yet to win a championship, but has the right team around him to do it.
    Now, getting down to the scoring aspect of basketball. Kobe has created an art form of shooting. He is a master of creating opportunities to score. He has the famous baseline fadeaway that is almost impossible to defend. He does a great job of blowing by his defender and getting open layups/dunks at the rim. He also has a great passing ability. He is the youngest player to score 30,000 points in NBA history. (Golliver) Even Kevin Durant made a comment on him passing Jordan on the all time scoring list. He said “I want to play with a winner every single night, especially somebody who wants to win that bad, who works that hard, who demands a lot, who raises up your level. I'd want to play with a guy like that every day. ... (His style) may make people uncomfortable, how he acts and just how he approaches the game, but I love that type of stuff. I think (the accusation) is BS." This the shows the amount of respect Kobe has earned over the course of his career. He is the only player in NBA history to score 30,000 points and have 6,000 assists. (Conway) That says a lot considering even the best to play have never accomplished that milestone. Another side of that argument though, is that he has missed the most shots ever in the history of the NBA. Obviously when you take the amount of shots that he takes, a good amount of them are bound to go in. I’m not taking anything away from him because he does have a freak ability to score. He also has an ability to hit acrobatic shots and finesse finishes in traffic that many players could only dream to be able to do. His ability to create jump shots for himself has been compared to Jordan. He has good control of his body which allows him to be stable when pulling up for a jump shot or going strong to take a layup in traffic. Many analysts say that Kobe is the closest player the NBA has seen to Jordan since he retired. He has maintained an average of 25.5 points per game throughout his 17 year career, and 25.6 in the playoffs. ( Kobe is currently 3rd in all-time leading scorers, and he just passed Michael Jordan. (Conway)
Kevin Durant is a freakish athlete. He is a 6 foot 10 small forward who can play guard. Most guards in the NBA are around 6’6”. That gives him an immediate 4 inch advantage. He has an ability to dribble and pull up for a jump shot at almost any spot on the floor. He has great ball handling ability for a man that size, and he uses it well to his advantage. He can also spot up and hit a jump shot off the catch better than almost everyone else in the league. As his college coach stated “ He’s a once-in-a-lifetime guy”. There are very few athletes in the world that can do what he does at such a competitive level. He has won the scoring title 4 times in his short career so far. There are only 2 players who have done more times than that in their entire careers, Wilt Chamberlin and Michael Jordan. That is a great group of people to be in a category with. He is the 2nd youngest player ever to score 15,000 points behind Lebron James.  Throughout his career so far he has averaged 27.3 in the regular season and 28.9 in the postseason. This shows how he becomes a great leader and scorer when the pressure is on and the job needs to get done.
    Kobe has a clear cut advantage when it comes to winning championships. He has also had unbelievably dominating big men when he won these titles. Shaq in the early 2000’s was a freak. At 7 foot 1 he was near impossible to defend. That is a great option to have when you can score at any point, but when you get double teamed be able to drop it off to the best big man in the league. Kobe came to the NBA right out of high school at age 18. He played few games his first season, but after that he became the superstar and the face of the Laker franchise. After winning championships from 2000-2002, he proved he can lead his team to victory. After they traded Shaq though, the team failed to win a championship until 2009 and again in 2010. They had a much more athletic team in those years. They had Pau Gasol who was one of the best Power Forward/ Centers in the league at this time. Kobe was still the star of the team, but he had a good cast of players around him to help him win. He had players who complimented him well, and that’s why he has done so well in NBA playoffs and winning championships.
    Durant on the other hand has had to be the most dominant player on the court at all times. He has a star in Russell Westbrook at the point guard position, but he is not the type of guard Durant needs around him. Westbrook is a score first pass second athletic guard. What KD needs is a pass first score second aggressive point guard. Durant and the whole organization knows that they need the ball in his hands to win games, but that doesn’t mean he is going to take every shot. He needs a solid big man to get rebounds and to get open in the post for when Durant can’t create anything for himself. Serge Ibaka is a very athletic big man who has unbelievable potential, the Thunder will be a huge threat to anyone standing in their way when they are fully healthy, and fully adapted to the NBA style of play. This year, they need to be focused on just making the playoffs especially because they started off way behind due to injuries to Durant and Westbrook. Since both of their returns though, the Thunder as a team have made great progress and are making a good push for a playoff spot. Many NBA analysts are talking about this being a make or break year for Kevin Durant. He is expected to do great things, but if he can’t win a championship his legacy will mean next to nothing.
    If we look at the stats in head to head matchups, KD has been near dominant recently. He has outscored Kobe in 10 of the last 14 matchups. (Tapp) Many experts believe the torch has finally been passed from Kobe to KD. When looking at the promise that KD has to become the greatest scorer of all time, many think we won’t see a force like this again for a while. He is on pace to beat Kobe as youngest player to reach 30,000 point in his career. (Golliver) This is especially amazing because he started his career at a later age than Kobe did. Kobe came right out of high school at the age of 18. Durant went to school, but entered the league a year later at the age of 19. He is not yet fully healthy, but when he is look out for his complete dominance and ability to take control of games.
    Gap: There are also a couple factors in this that made it harder to research. They played in different times at the prime of their careers. The league was much different in the early 2000’s than it is today. There were still many outgoing superstars who attracted attention on and off the court, but not nearly as many as there are today. Defense was also a lot better 10 years ago. Now most games are well over 100 points.They played harder on every play and everyone played to win. There was also a lot less talent so players like Kobe could take over.
Data Analysis: I went around surveying many students are Norton High to see who they believed was the better player in their prime. 

Findings: When Surveying NBA fans around Norton High School, many people believe that KD is a better and more dominant force in the NBA. They believe as well as most that the talent is way higher in the NBA now than it was 10 years ago when Kobe was in his prime.

Conway, Tyler. “Kobe Passes Jordan on NBA Scoring List.”  Bleacher Report Web. 20. Dec. 2014

Golliver, Ben. “Bryant is Youngest to 30,000 Points, but James, Durant Are Hot on His Heels” Web. Nov. 14. 2014

Martin, Josh “Kobe or KD a Better Pure Scorer?” Bleacher report Web. 12. Nov. 2014

Tapp, Jerry. Kobe Bryant vs. Kevin Durant: 6 Facts You Might Not Know” Bleacher Report Web. 20. Nov. 2014