With the NBA Finals on the horizon, a variety of questions and thoughts regarding the teams and players involved have swirled through my mind. Perhaps none of these thoughts or questions has been more perplexing than this: Why the hell do people still think Kevin Durant is better than Stephen Curry?
Did everyone that’s not me get in a time machine and travel back to 2012? This would be the only logical explanation as to why people feel Durant is better than Curry because here in 2017 there’s not a single shred of evidence that gives credence to that notion.
For those that actually believe Durant is better than Curry in 2017, please prepare to be educated.
I’ve written about this now multiple times and I’m about to do it again. How on Earth does Durant keep evading the injury prone label? I know the media has a love affair with him but they can only reject reality for so long.
Over the past three seasons Durant has missed 85 of the possible 246 (35 percent) regular season games he could have partaken in and a couple of postseason games as well. For comparisons sake, that’s more than Curry has missed in his entire eight-year career.
While Curry had some durability issues early on, he flat out smokes Durant in this department of late and we are discussing who’s better right now, correct?
Regular Season Play
When Durant is actually available for games — remember there’s a 35 percent chance he’s not going to be on any given night according the last three years — he’s pretty good. But, guess what? He’s not better than Curry.
Let’s take a look at Durant’s numbers over the last three regular seasons compared to Curry’s.
Kevin Durant: Per Game (2014-15 to 2016-17)
26.5 PTS, 8.0 TRB, 4.8 AST, .517 FG%, .386 3P%, .882 FT%
Stephen Curry: Per Game (2014-15 to 2016-17)
26.4 PTS, 4.7 TRB, 7.0 AST, .487 FG%, .436 3P%, .906 FT%
Pretty comparable, huh?
Let’s bring in advanced statistics.
Kevin Durant: Advanced (2014-15 to 2016-17)
27.9 PER, .640 TS%, .270 WS/48, 7.6 BPM, 13.5 VORP
Stephen Curry: Advanced (2014-15 to 2016-17)
28.1 PER, .645 TS%, .279 WS/48, 9.9 BPM, 23.9 VORP
Not quite as comparable, huh?
Durant and Curry wash each other out in a variety of categories such as PTS, TS% and PER. But, Curry edges Durant in basically every category — some by a little, some by a lot — aside from FG% and TRB. Overall, Curry’s regular season stats are better than Durant’s.
It’s now been proven that Durant is less durable than Curry and a worse regular season performer. His playoff numbers must be what make up the gap and put him over Curry, right?
We’re going to do the same thing here that we did for regular season play and put Durant’s per game and advanced playoff numbers against Curry’s. Then we’ll take a look at memorable moments — both good and bad.
*Note: The Oklahoma City Thunder missed the 2014-2015 playoffs and Durant wouldn’t have been able to play even if they had made it due to an injury he suffered in the regular season. For this reason, we’ll pull his numbers from 2013-2014 to provide each player with a similar sample size that’s as recent as possible.
Kevin Durant: Playoffs Per Game (2013-14 to 2016-17)
28.2 PTS, 8.0 TRB, 3.7 AST, .463 FG%, .332 3P%, .852 FT%
Stephen Curry: Playoffs Per Game (2014-15 to 2016-17)
27.2 PTS, 5.3 TRB, 5.8 AST, .460 FG%, .418 3P%, .879 FT%
Kevin Durant: Playoffs Advanced (2013-14 to 2016-17)
22.2 PER, .575 TS%, .159 WS/48, 3.8 BPM, 2.7 VORP
Stephen Curry: Playoffs Advanced (2014-15 to 2016-17)
24.5 PER, .621 TS%, .216 WS/48, 8.5 BPM, 4.9 VORP
As you can see, Durant and Curry experience a drop in production from the regular season to the postseason. This is actually quite normal even among great players considering the higher level of effort and intensity that comes with the territory of the NBA playoffs. With that said, Durant’s drop in production is actually alarming. He experiences a major drop in efficiency and doesn’t really make up for that with sheer statistical volume.
Curry’s numbers in per game statistics in the postseason are slightly better than Durant’s and his advanced statistics blow Durant’s out of the water.
While it’s become apparent that Curry is better than Durant, let’s take a look at the five most memorable moments including Durant and Curry that have occurred during the playoff runs just used:
Stephen Curry – Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals
Moments after being ejected for throwing the all-time biggest Finals hissy fit in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Curry mouthed “I’m coming” at LeBron James. He then came and scored 17 points on 6/19 shooting in Game 7. It was the perfect ending to the biggest choke job in NBA Finals history.
Kevin Durant – Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals
After building a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead against Curry’s 73-9 Warriors, Durant’s Thunder predictably lost Game 5 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals. That’s fine. No big deal. Just close it out at home, right? Well, the Thunder failed to do so and in their failing to do so Durant went 10/31 and gave up the ball down the stretch. This choke job had a case for first place but it just couldn’t quite beat out Curry’s Game 7.
Stephen Curry – Game 7 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals
After being down 3-1 against the Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference Finals, the Warriors managed to claw back in the series and tie it at three games apiece. Curry didn’t let this opportunity go to waste as he put up 36 points and 8 assists in Game 7 on 13/24 shooting and was the driving force behind the Warriors Game 7 victory.
Stephen Curry – Game 5 of the 2015 NBA Finals
As many know, Game 5 is often the swing game in the NBA Finals. With the 2015 NBA Finals tied at 2-2, Curry strolled into Oracle Arena and put up 37 points 7 rebounds and 4 assists on 13/23 shooting to give his team a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals.
Kevin Durant – Game 4 of the 2016 Western Conference Semi-Finals
With the Thunder down 2-1 in their 2016 Western Conference Semi-Finals series against the Spurs and an away game on deck, Durant came up big. He put up 41 points on 14/25 shooting to tie the series at 2-2 and save the Thunder from going down 3-1. The best part? He did this against Kawhi Leonard.
Steph’s Just Better
You now know a couple of things:
- Curry is more durable than Durant
- Curry has better regular season numbers than Durant
- Curry has better postseason numbers than Durant
- Curry and Durant both choked extremely hard in the 2016 NBA playoffs
- Curry has three of the five (two good, one bad) most memorable playoff moments over the last couple of years compared to Durants two of the five (one good, one bad)
- STEPHEN CURRY IS BETTER THAN KEVIN DURANT