Kevin Durant is The Best Player in The World by Sameer Kumar
We saw that Kevin Durant has firmly established himself as the best basketball player on this planet.
The Brooklyn Nets didn't make the NBA Finals this season, as injuries to Kyrie Irving and James Harden proved to be too much of a hurdle for the Nets to overcome the Milwaukee Bucks. However, we saw that Kevin Durant has firmly established himself as the best basketball player on this planet.
In Games 5-7 of the Bucks series, when the Nets were without Irving and with a very limited Harden, Durant turned his game up to a whole other level, posting up averages of 43.0 points on 53.9 percent shooting from the floor to go along with 12.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists while playing every second of the game in Games 5 and 7.
Game 5 is when Durant came through big time, as he put up 49 points on 16-of-23 shooting, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists, becoming the only player in NBA history ever to put up that stat line in a playoff game. The Nets came back from down as many as 17 points in the first half and won the game. However, Durant did a significant portion of his damage in the second half.
Durant dropped 48 points in Game 7, but he did it on a much less efficient 17-of-36 shooting from the floor. That's one hell of a game, and the fact we're nitpicking about his efficiency goes to show how dominant of a scorer he's been throughout his career.
It's also a true testament to his greatness that he could put up these astronomical numbers essentially without his two best teammates by his side and get his other teammates involved in the offense's flow by maximizing their strengths.
It becomes even more impressive that he could give a much healthier Bucks squad an actual run for their money, as the duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton can be extremely difficult to stop once they get going. Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez are capable of big-time performances as well, as displayed this postseason.
Offensively, Durant is the complete package. If he gets to his spot in the mid-range, it's a guaranteed bucket. If he gets open behind the arc, you can expect the ball to go through the hoop as well.
If a defender runs him off the line, all he needs to do is use his burst of speed to get to the rim, and a highlight dunk or crafty layup will be on its way.
The way Durant moves as a 6-foot-10 forward defies everything about the human body. He's a near 7-foot guard. So no matter who you throw Durant's way, you're not going to stop him. It's pretty simple.
Defensively, Durant was rated as one of the better defenders when it came to field goal attempts. He limited Kawhi Leonard to 3-of-10 shooting in just under nine minutes spent guarding him in their lone matchup this season, and Jayson Tatum to 1-of-3 shooting in about 6:30 spent defending him.
Durant has a knack for using his long frame and lateral quickness to get opposing players out of rhythm and force misses from the best scorers in the league on top of his otherworldly skillset. With little room for error defensively for the Nets, every make or miss plays large throughout a game, especially if they go up against similarly talented teams.
The beauty of Durant's game is that he doesn't need to have the ball in his hands at all times to put up the high-scoring numbers that he does. In addition, he became much more comfortable getting shots up without taking even one dribble since the Nets made the trade for Harden instead of utilizing his sweet pull-up jumper that would give opposing defenses a headache on a nightly basis.
Durant's ability to score without having the ball in his hands as a primary scorer allows him to seamlessly transition onto a team with other superstars without much trouble. That's how the Golden State Warriors were able to win back-to-back championships with ease.
LeBron James will always be considered the better player of all-time, but with James being 36 years old and seeing a little bit of decline in his play, the time is now to crown KD as the best player in the game while he's still at the prime peak of his powers. Nobody can match Durant's consistency on offense in today's game, and it helps that Durant can get it done on defense as well.
If health can hold up for Durant and the Nets next season, then it won't be unreasonable to expect to see Durant take home his second MVP Award and the Nets finally break through and win their first championship in franchise history.