For years, LeBron James has lived in the shadow of Michael Jordan. All great players, especially those with an aptitude for scoring, usually wind up there. This is a testament to how larger than life Jordan is. However, this season is different, LeBron James has found his style and hit his stride. One NBA season after his first ever championship, LeBron has found a way to slide from behind the shadow of Jordan. By playing his own game. LeBron with his size and new found agression, is playing in a style that Michael Jordan never could. He’s scored 30 points in his last 6 games while shooting 60% from the field. This has never happened in NBA history. His efficiency is staggering. The tear that LeBron is on has him garnering consideration for a second consecutive MVP award. Deservedly so, but with this attention going towards James it is leaving an unlikely player in his shadow.
Yes, Durant. LeBron has been playing at such a high level that it’s easy to overlook what Kevin is doing with the Thunder. It’s also easy to miss the fact that statistically, James and Durant are nearly identical. I don’t mean identical in some statistical categories, I mean almost all of them.
Typically in a Kevin Durant versus LeBron James debate, LeBron always gets the edge because he, like no one else in the league, is capable of filling out a stat sheet. Except, that isn’t quite true. Durant is more than able of filling out a stat sheet himself.
Points Per Game – James: 27.1 Durant: 30
Rebounds Per Game – James: 8.1 Durant: 7.4
Assists Per Game – James: 6.9 Durant: 4.4
Steals Per Game – James: 1.6 Durant: 1.6
Blocks Per Game – James: 0.9 Durant: 1.2
Field Goal Percentage – James: 56.% Durant: 51.9%
3-Point Percentage – James:42% Durant: 43.2%
Kevin Durant is more of a shooter than LeBron is, attempting more shots and scoring slightly more points but, LeBron maintains a higher shooting percentage. This is likely because he takes higher percentage shots, especially since he has put more of an emphasis on attacking the basket and playing in the low post. They are both proficient on defense averaging the same amount of steals per game and a high number of blocks.
This is not to say that Kevin Durant has been getting no consideration or that he’s “underrated” or anything along the lines of those cliches. Far from it.
The point is that LeBron is playing more dominantly than he has ever played. He has elevated his game to such a high level that he has actually managed to out shine a fellow all star and a player with stats comprable to his. Durant and James play the same position and are both dominating at it in very different ways. The race for MVP and an NBA title may be one in the same, and it’s a race that is much closer than it looks.