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With Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant putting up incredible performances in the NBA playoffs despite being eliminated, debates have sparked across the NBA world over who is the best player in the league.
Durant has shown he can play as he did before his devastating Achilles injury, which didn’t seem likely when he first injured it.
Durant averaged 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.6 blocks in 12 playoff games, which had many people saying he’s the best in the league.
On the other hand, LeBron James’ name entered the conversation because of how the league has revolved around him during his 18-year career, especially in the past decade when James made eight NBA Finals appearances in a row.
On ESPN’s “Get Up”, Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson and Stephen A. Smith debated who is atop the throne. Johnson sided with James because of his overall dominance in all aspects of the game, especially how he lifts the floor of his teammates’ abilities.
Smith, however, disagreed with Johnson and cited free throws as to why Durant tops James:
“I’m a scorer. I’m about putting the ball in the hole. And when I look at KD [Kevin Durant], who has averaged the same amount of points as LeBron throughout his career, 27 points per game, around the same rebounds, considering the shooting percentage from the perimeter, LeBron is a career 73-percent free-throw shooter. Over the last three years, he has shot less than 70 percent from the free-throw line. Kevin Durant is 85-plus. The brother is a marksman. Extraordinaire. And when I look at it from that perspective, I just think offensively there are levels to this, and LeBron ain’t on that level. It’s no knock against LeBron it just speaks to the level of eliteness that Kevin Durant has.”
Though James is a high-volume free-throw shooter, his conversion rates are an aspect of his game that could certainly use improvements. But considering how dominant James is as an all-around expert, using free throws — as important as they can be — to rank one player over the other is quite the comparison.
Check out the full conversation above, courtesy of ESPN’s YouTube channel.