Why LeBron James is still the best in the NBA
There has been debate in NBA circles about who the best player in the league is in 2012/2013. Some say it’s Kevin Durant, the three-time (and reigning) scoring champion and best player for the young and rapidly improving Oklahoma City Thunder, who were runners up to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals.
Others still cling on to the belief that Kobe Bryant is the top dog in the league today. This is despite Kobe being past his prime and being without an all around game like the others.
Carmelo Anthony has a growing following due to his outstanding performance for the New York Knicks this season, leading the team in scoring while improving his all around play and actually giving some sort of consistent effort in defence.
However, all of these suggestions are wrong.
There is only one answer that should be given to the question “Who is the best player in the NBA today?”.
And that is LeBron James.
Let’s start with the basics. LeBron James, the Number One pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, is the reigning league MVP (his third MVP trophy since he entered the league).
He is coming off a year where he won Regular Season MVP, the NBA Title, Finals MVP, and an Olympic gold medal.
To win the first three, he beat out Kevin Durant, the most popular choice to be the best player in the league besides LeBron. This alone should be enough to end the debate, as coming off the best year of his career, it should be obvious that LeBron is the best player in the league.
However, arguments are still being made for Durant. These arguments centre around the significant all around improvement to Durant’s game this season, as he is rebounding and assisting at career high levels, and his defence has improved visibly.
However, just because he has improved these facets of his game does not mean he is in the same league as LeBron.
Durant is having a phenomenal year, posting averages (at the time of writing) of 28.1 Points Per Game, 8.4 Rebounds Per Game, 4.2 Assists Per Game, 1.5 Steals Per Game, and 1.3 Blocks Per Game, while shooting 52% from the field, 43% from the three point line, and 90% from the free throw line.
These are excellent numbers, with incredible efficiency. Durant is currently set to join the exclusive 50-40-90 shooting percentages club (for players who shoot 50% from the field, 40% from three, and 90% at the line in a single season), a feat which has been achieved by only five players in history.
Despite Durant’s excellence, and despite the belief of many NBA commentators, he is still not on the same level as LeBron.
LeBron is currently averaging 25.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 0.9 BPG, shooting 54% FG, 43% 3PT, and 70% FT.
In addition to the numbers, LeBron carries the heavy burden of always defending the opposition’s best player, be it a point guard through, a centre or anyone in between. Durant never has this pressure, and is free to focus most of his effort on the offensive end.
And while Durant’s assist numbers have improved, he is yet to match LeBron’s passing ability or responsibility to get his teammates going.
There is no doubt in my mind that LeBron could lead the league in scoring if he chose to, and he said the same recently: “If I wanted to, I could lead the league in scoring, but that’s not my job here”.
This is true, as LeBron’s responsibility is much more than just getting himself more points.
While Kevin Durant is improving to the point that it’s almost scary how good he could become, he is yet to reach the all around level of play that LeBron James currently plays at.
When Durant improves his passing and defence further, then the discussion can begin. For the moment, there shouldn’t be an argument at all.
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA today.
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