Although ranking the top 30 NBA players in today’s game is an incredibly difficult task, The Last Word on Pro Basketball staff has taken it on. Debuting at Number 2 in the countdown in Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant.
Top 30 NBA Players
Number 2 – Kevin Durant
Coming in just shy of the top spot is NBA superstar Kevin Durant. The last time the world saw Durant fully healthy, he was dominating at All-Star weekend, fresh off back-to-back Finals MVP awards. It was hard to argue anyone in the league was on his level. However, NBA fans and analysts are prisoners of the moment and seem to have forgotten his utter dominance, all because he’s been injured for more than a calendar year. He earned LWOPB’s second spot by just a single vote, edging out Kawhi Leonard by a margin of 365 votes to 364, with both receiving two first-place votes each. If not for his injury, though, there is little doubt he would have challenged for the top spot.
Sure, Durant made what might have been the absolute weakest move in the history of professional sports when he signed with the Golden State Warriors, but we aren’t here to discuss legacy. In terms of playing the sport of basketball, few in the history of the game even come close to matching the abilities of Durant. When healthy, he may very well be the best player on the planet. Two of our voters (myself included) believe that he is, even while wearing a suit for the Nets.
If this section were titled “things Kevin Durant does better than the average NBA player”, it would take 10,000 words to get the point across. But instead, we’ll settle for “strengths”, which will be relative to Durant’s insane talent level.
Durant is one of the greatest pure scorers the NBA has ever seen. He’s a shooting guard with the height of a center that can score from anywhere on the floor over any defender. He can slash, score in the post, pull up from three, catch-and-shoot, drive, pick-and-pop, and any other offensive move you can think of. If the ball is in Durant’s hands — or even if he’s just on the offensive end of the floor in general — he’s a threat to score on your team’s best defender.
He is also an upper-level defender at the small/power forward positions. Sure, he isn’t quite on the level of the aforementioned Leonard or Giannis Antetokounmpo, but few players in league history are. And Durant isn’t that far behind them. He can defend any wing position and shows little to no weakness on that side of the floor. If LeBron James has the ball in his hands with just seconds left and Durant is guarding him, the outcome is anyone’s guess. If any other player is taking that shot, my money is on Durant.
Just kidding, of course, but it isn’t far from the truth. On the floor, there is little that Durant can’t do. His real ‘weaknesses’ stem not from his abilities, but from his intangibles. Durant has never truly displayed leadership either on or off the floor and has long been viewed as a bit of a disruptor behind closed doors. From his burner accounts on Twitter to his overwhelmingly negative portrayal by most major media outlets, Durant’s presence on a team can be a distraction in itself.
On the floor, though, there is pretty much nothing he can’t do well.
Kevin Durant Career Accolades
In just 12 seasons, Durant is already one of the more decorated players in NBA history.
He started with a bang, winning Rookie of the Year after he was selected second overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2007. Since then, he’s racked up 10 All-Star appearances and nine All-NBA nods, snagged a regular-season MVP award, won four scoring titles, and brought home two rings and two Finals MVP trophies for the Golden State Warriors
Those numbers already look gaudy, but when adding some context, they look even better.
Durant is quickly climbing the all-time All-Star appearances latter. Through 12 seasons, he’s got 10 appearances, which puts him tied for 30th most in league history. Only 29 players in the history of the league have more appearances, and Durant is far from finished.
No matter what argument is made concerning whether or not his rings “count”, Durant has two Finals MVP awards. Only five players in NBA history have more:
Durant is one of just 12 total players to win the award multiple times. The others — besides the aforementioned — are Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kobe Bryant, and Kawhi Leonard. That’s some pretty elite company.
Finally, Durant’s four scoring titles are the third most all-time in the NBA. Only Michael Jordan (10) and Wilt Chamberlain (7) have more than Durant. George Gervin and Allen Iverson are the only other players in NBA history to have at least four scoring titles.
And then, of course, there’s the fact that for his career, Durant averages 27.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game on 49.3 percent from the field (including 38.1 percent from three) and 88.3 percent from the charity stripe. Take that for data.
Whether he’s loved or hated by NBA fans, his ridiculous numbers speak volumes. Durant is already one of the most accomplished players the league has ever seen, and he still has time to build his resume even more.
Last Word on Pro Basketball Top 30 NBA Players Ballots
We believe in full transparency in the top 30 NBA player rankings so we are going to disclose the ballots of our player rankings and where each contributor had each player ranked.
Tyler Marling – Site Manager – 3
Chase Gage – Managing Editor – 1
David Knight – Marketing Manager – 1
Zack Kircher – Associate Editor – 2
Matthew Waldman – Associate Editor – 3
David Ward – Associate Editor – 2
Avinash Chauhan – Contributor – 6
Adam Zigner – Contributor – 3
Albert Dadson – Contributor – 2
Dylan Guest – Contributor – 5
Raheem Bashir – Contributor – 4
Nathan Levine – Contributor – 3
Bill Huan – Contributor – 3
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