Brooklyn Nets small forward Kevin Durant had an incredible 2021 postseason, reminding everyone he’s one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. However, as has been the case his entire career, he’s still not better than Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.
That’s at least what Hall of Famer Magic Johnson thinks.
Magic Johnson says Kevin Durant hasn’t passed LeBron James as the greatest player in the world yet
Johnson, who signed LeBron as a free agent in 2018 when he was running the Lakers, said on ESPN’s First Take that Durant hasn’t passed the King as the greatest player in the world yet. However, the five-time champion said it’s getting close.
“Molly, not yet,” Johnson said when Molly Qerim Rose asked him if Durant has passed LeBron as the best player in the world. “He gotta win that chip. He gotta win that championship, and they came up short, just like LeBron and the Lakers came up short this season. LeBron still has the edge on those championship rings. So, I would say not yet. But I tell you … you know how the torch is being like this (passing it back), KD’s got his arm out waiting on it.”
Durant was sensational in the 2021 playoffs against the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. Despite his heroics, though, the Nets lost to the Bucks in the second round in seven games.
Meanwhile, LeBron and the Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns in the first round in six games, marking the first time in his career LBJ has not gotten past the first round. The four-time MVP averaged 23.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 8.0 assists versus the Suns and played on an injured ankle. LeBron is expected to use this summer to rest and regroup for a revenge-type season in 2021-22.
LeBron and Durant are widely recognized as the top two players in the NBA. However, what makes the former better than the latter?
LeBron James is a greater all-around player than Kevin Durant
Durant is a better scorer and shooter than LeBron. However, the latter is a far superior all-around player. After all, LeBron is the only player in NBA history to rank top-10 all-time in both points and assists. He’s also second in NBA history in PER, trailing only the great Michael Jordan.
LeBron can do everything on a basketball court: score, pass, rebound, and defend. While Durant can do these things as well, he’s not the elite passer or defender the Lakers star is. LeBron has made six All-Defensive teams and led the NBA in assists per game during the 2019-20 season. Meanwhile, Durant has never been voted to an All-Defensive team or even come close to leading the league in assists.
Many NBA fans wanted to see the Lakers and Nets meet in the 2021 Finals to determine who the better player is right now between LeBron and Durant. Unfortunately, Anthony Davis got hurt in Game 5 against the Suns, which led to the Lakers’ demise, and Kyrie Irving sprained his ankle in Game 4 against the Bucks and was lost for the series.
As it stands, LeBron has two more championships, two more Finals MVPs, and three more regular-season MVPs than Durant. They are both NBA legends, but LeBron must be considered better than Durant since he brings more to the table.
Both superstars will have new teammates next season
Both LeBron and Durant will certainly have new teammates next season. The Lakers need more shooters around the Chosen One and Davis, while the Nets need help in the frontcourt and additional playmakers alongside KD, Irving, and James Harden.
It would be entertaining to watch a Finals series between the Lakers and Nets. A seven-game series for all the marbles featuring LeBron, Davis, Durant, Irving, and Harden would be must-see TV. However, both teams have major weaknesses that must be addressed in the offseason, and it’s not guaranteed the respective front offices will achieve their goal.
LeBron only has a few more years left of being an MVP-caliber player due to age, so hopefully, he faces Durant at least one more time in the Finals.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.