Marshall is a Wisconsin realtor and mentor who coaches inner city youth who may not have the access to play otherwise.
The Greek Freak vs The Slim Reaper
Ever since the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Brooklyn Nets in the second round of the 2021 Playoffs, all the talk has been about Giannis Antetokoumpo vs. Kevin Durant. Most people don’t believe this is a debate, as they see KD as the superior basketball player, even after his recent and early elimination at the hands of Greek Freak. Many are quick to point to how lucky the Bucks were that the Nets had injuries to two out of there three star players. Some people say the Bucks were lucky to avoid Philly and only barely got past the Hawks. All of this despite them going on to win the whole thing and Giannis’ historic performances. I call BS. Critics are even arguing that the Bucks were lucky that Dario Saric couldn’t play due to injury. Dario Saric. I’ll give you some time to look him up. With all the slander being hurled at the Bucks, and our MVP in particular, I thought it was time to take a deeper dive into the numbers. Is there really a gap between KD and Giannis? How does Durant’s 8th year stack up against Giannis’ historically great one? Is Durant truly the better scorer?
1: Better Scorer
Kevin Durant is presumed to go down as one of, if not the greatest scorer of all time. I mean he has led the league in scoring on four separate occasions. He’s already universally recognized as the best scorer in the game today. But would that change if I told you that over the past five years in a row, The Freak has scored more points, more efficiently? Because he has. Since the 2016–17 season, Kevin Durant hasn’t averaged more than 26.9PPG over the course of any season. In that same period, 26.9 PPG is the least Giannis has averaged for any season. He has also done this with remarkable efficiency considering the way he scores. He has shot 52% or better since the 2015–16 and has shot better than 55% for the past three years straight, finishing at 57% last year. KD averaged a career high 54% last year. I can already tell what you’re thinking. KD shoots more three’s, Giannis likes to attack the basket, which explains the difference in percentages right there. Right? Wrong! If it were that simple KD should still average more points. So then, why doesn’t he? Because they both mix it up very well, scoring from all over the floor and getting to the free throw line at a nearly identical clip. Giannis is simply doing it… better. He shot 3.4 three-point field goals per game last year, only slightly less than KD’s 5.4 and he also got to the line 9.5 times per game which is only slightly better than KD’s 6.8 attempts per games. It’s also worth noting that due to Giannis’ poor free throw percentage they make about the same amount every night.
2: Better Defender
So, they’re a wash offensively with the Greek Freak taking the slightest of edges. What about their defense. Well, I’m glad you asked. Giannis is a former Defensive Player of the Year with four All Defensive selections. Kevin Durant has earned zero All Defensive honors, let alone a DPOY award. This one isn’t even close. You may want to argue that KD is more of a perimeter player at his size and Giannis protects the interior. I would argue that you don’t watch the Nets or Bucks play very much. KD and Giannis are virtually the same height and weight. Since his time in Golden State, KD has been used as a rim protector and help side defender. It was much the same in Brooklyn with there frontline being so limited. If you’ve seen the Bucks play you know that they switch everything. Giannis may end up guarding a point guard, a small forward and a center all in the same possession. It’s not only his ability to guard all these positions but the level at which he does it that has earned him the recognition he’s already received and presumably will continue to get.
How about their intangibles? The stuff that doesn’t show up in the box score. Who’s the better leader and hardest worker? Who can you trust in the clutch to get you a timely bucket? We all just saw this play out in Game 7 of the NBA Playoffs. With just one minute left in overtime, Giannis takes KD to the post and scores right over the top of him to tie the game. That’s clutch. Durant then goes on to miss his final three shots, air balling badly on his last one, to ensure his team loses the game and gets eliminated. Some say he was tired after playing the entire game. I say he should have passed the ball! Lebron James would have and Giannis Antetokoumpo did after playing nearly the entire game as well. That’s called leadership. It’s not smart to force shots through fatigue and there is no more blatant way of letting your teammates know how little you trust them. Especially when right on the other end of the court, Giannis is willing to give up the ball and set a screen, using himself as a diversion so someone else can make a play. Giannis had faith in his teammates and they rewarded it by playing hard. Joe Harris was the best shooter in that series and KD barely ran a single play to get him a shot. He struggled mightily against the Bucks defense and turned the ball over more than a few times trying to make a play for himself since no one else seemed inclined to. Another reason KD is known more for his “Twitter Fingers” than his leadership.
4: Year 8 Giannis vs Year 8 Durant
Giannis is only in his 8th year in the NBA compared to Durant’s 14th. I think looking back at where KD was six years ago can give us some perspective on just how good Giannis has been in comparison. 2014–15 was year number eight ,for Durant who was just one season away from leaving for Golden State. He had already won Rookie of the Year, four scoring titles, and his lone MVP award. He even made it to the NBA Finals, losing in six games to Lebron James and the Miami Heat a few years prior. He was a talented player in his prime. Still, he had yet to accomplish as much as The Greek Freak had in that span. In eight years, Giannis has won Most Improved Player of the Year, two MVPs (The first ever to win both), four all defensive selections, a Defensive Player of the Year award, as well as an NBA Championship and Finals MVP award. There is no doubting that Giannis has had a much better start to his career. KD was eventually able to add a couple of ‘chips to his resume but not until after joining the most winningest team of all time. Giannis did it with no other MVP candidates or perennial all stars beside him and did it at a younger age with the team that drafted him. While the NBA is a business, there is something to be said about having loyalty. No one is ever going to question Giannis’. And while no one is ever going to mistake Giannis as a better shooter than KD, if you’re just looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see who the better player is.
GA: 29.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.9 BPG 57.8% FG, 34.7% 3PT, 77% FT
KD: 32.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.8 BPG, 53.7% FG, 45% 3PT, 90.5% FT