As we've seen through the first two games, the heavyweight battle of these 2012 NBA Finals is obviously the match-up between superstar forwards LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
|Photo by: Ronald Martinez|
Here is the tale of the tape.
In the red corner, standing 6'8, 250 pounds (or at least, that's what they want us to believe), three-time NBA MVP -- LeBron James. In the blue corner, standing 6'9 (or 6'10 or 7', depending on who you're talking to), 235 pounds, three-time NBA scoring champion -- Kevin Durant. These two highly decorated stars are both physical specimens and young to boot (in NBA years and real-time). James is just 27, while Durant is only 23.
Offensively, it is as close as it gets. Durant holds the edge in points per game at 28 a contest. James shot a higher field goal percentage at 53% (Durant shot slightly under 50%). Durant held the advantage in three-point shooting (39%) and free throws (86%), while James had more assists (6.2) and less turnovers (3.4).
In the playoffs, James began to score more than Durant, but Durant started shooting better from the field. KD also became more careful with the ball, as he began to average less turnovers per game. Everything else remained the same where Durant out-shot James from the line and from three, while LeBron out-assisted Durant.
As anti-climactic as this may sound, offensively -- it's basically a push.
On the defensive side, it's a close battle, but not as close. Durant holds the advantage in blocks averaging 1.3 per game during the season. James held the upper hand in steals per game averaging 1.9. In the postseason, Durant continued to block more while James stole more. Throughout the regular season and postseason, they both remained consistently around two fouls per game, with neither regularly facing fouling out or being labeled a hack.
The numbers would say it's a close race, but defense has to go to LeBron. He is a three-time NBA All-Defense Team member, while Durant has never made the team.
James and Durant are both dominate on the boards at the forward position. Both averaged around 8 rebounds per game during the season. James has elevated his game on the glass to another level in the playoffs, pushing his rpg to 9.6, while Durant remained consistent at around 8 per game. Between the regular season and postseason, LeBron has 31 double-doubles to Durant's 24.
A winner must be crowned. One man must stand with his arm raised high. So who will it be?
One can't go wrong picking either guy. However, James-Durant 1 needs to go to LeBron.
Perhaps no player in NBA history has faced as much scrutiny as James has, and while Durant is one of the best in the business (perhaps even the second-best player in the league), no one puts up the type of numbers King James does game-in and game-out.
Still, the best player (or team for that matter) doesn't always come out on top in the end. Clearly, James needs a ring more than Durant -- but it doesn't necessarily mean he's going to get it.