Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Kevin Durant Question:
Is He "The Next" or "The New?"

The Kevin Durant Debate is raging: No. 1 draft prospect over Greg Oden? Best player in college hoops this season? Best freshman ever?

The debate has taken an interesting turn: Henry Abbott over at True Hoop pointed out that the NBA DraftExpress site has officially moved Durant ahead of Oden on their draft board, which might be the first "recognized" site – including the mainstream outlets – to do that.

I'm still wondering how Durant will "redefine" his position in the NBA in the same way that KG or Dirk did, as Durant's many fanboys are arguing.

I don't doubt that he could be a perennial All-Star (much like Carmelo), but I still haven't heard a convincing argument of how he actually changes his position.

Why isn't it enough to say: He's the next Dirk? (Which is, by my estimation, Durant's closest NBA comparable and a template he'll be hard-pressed to improve on.)

Then a team with the No. 1 pick has to ask itself: Do they want the next David Robinson (Oden) or the next Dirk Nowitzki (Durant)?

I'm not suggesting which type of player has more value – a case could be made for both. I'm just wondering whether Durant is as transcendent, "game-changing" talent as everyone says... or merely an awesome conventional player.

By the way, I had an interesting exchange with The Big Lead last week about Durant's place in CBB history. Is he the best freshman ever? ("Ever" meaning "the last 20 years?") I'd say "Best" is an overly simplified formula of Individual Talent - Talent around you + Competition x Ultimate Tournmanent Success.

I think it's simple: I cannot rank any freshman over Carmelo Anthony. Not unless Durant carries Texas to a national title.

-- D.S.

30 comments:

BobbyStompy said...

Psh, Durant doesn't have sweet McNamara.

Melo road his coat tails to the championship.

Big D said...

Speaking as a Boston guy and as a Celtics' fan, I can honestly say that I would much rather the C's end up with the #2 pick than the #1.

With the #2, all the drama is taken out of the choice. You're getting one of the two best players in draft class, hands down. And more importantly, there's no way you "screw up" the pick - you never have to make the choice. Just take the one that's left.

Also, on another NBA point - anybody see this yet? (Yes, stolen directly from DeadSpin)

Mikepcfl said...

Didnt Detroit have the #2 pick after LeBron that couldnt be screwed up and they ended up with Darko over Carmelo and Wade?

CMFost said...

Big D - I have to disagree with you. I would much rather the Celtics have the #1 overall pick that way they can choose which player they would want go with instead of not having that choice. And I know personally I am hoping the Celts keep tanking and that they get the #1 or #2 pick. the celts could have a pretty nice starting 5 next year.

C - Oden
PF- Jeffereson
SF - Pierce
SG - Allen or Wally
PG - Rondo

Ben said...

Carmelo isn't a perennial all-star, he has yet to be on one all-star team, even though he's deserved it the last 3 years.

Durant has a lot more talent around him at Texas then 'Melo did, but it's an eerily similar comparison. The team has been top 25 good but not great, if they get on a roll, they can make a run.

gerard l callan II said...

big d - whats with the "not screwing up approach"?

lets jsut say one of them turns out to be a HOF'er, one of a kind player while the other is just better then average.

with the number 1 pick you would have the chance to take that HOF'er. you would rather pick second just to save face essentially?

you would pass up the opportunity to draft a potential HOF'er so you're not ridiculed if you picked incorrectly. yea, maybe he falls to you anyway but maybe he doesnt ... that difference makes the number 1 pick CONSIDERABLY more desirable.

Men make their future they dont let others make it for them.

solomonrex said...

The Slam dunk contest STILL isn't interesting. Unless Jordan convinces Oakley to go on the court and knock every competitor on their ass during the competition. That would make Youtube for sure.

As for Durant/Oden: patience, grasshopper. Wait for the tourney. After all, Durant and Oden aren't in the big conferences during a golden era for college b-ball. They just happen to be the first big men forced into the NCAA under the new rules. As great as Shaquille was, he was never in the argument as best college player evr.

rafael said...

I'd still take the next Bill Russell over the next KG or Dirk.

I just think you can always get scorers. Scorers are always showing up in the NBA. Durant would just be another.
Defensive walls? Those are much rarer. Go for Oden

Brian in Oxford said...

Oh sure, we started talking hockey and Dan put up a new post to put THAT to a stop!

I mentioned this a little while ago, but how often does a power forward lead his team to the title, in NBA history? Maybe you can count Duncan when he was aside Robinson, but he's a 5 for all intents and purposes, no?

Big men do not grow on trees! They can even make a medium-good 4 look that much better.

And #20 is still unretired in green....Unless we want to go back and honor Darren Daye.

Big D said...

I'm not saying I wouldn't want to have the choice, I'm just saying that I wouldn't want to be Danny Ainge if he guesses wrong and picks the guy who has the solid, but unspectacular career.

Of course, it's hard to screw up when you have two "can't miss" guys at the top of a draft class. Just ask Darko. Or Joe Smith. Or Sam Bowie. Or Ryan Leaf...

GuyInTheCorner said...

Kevin Durant is much more like T-Mac than he is like Dirk.

The major difference between him and Dirk or T-Mac is that he is better on the glass and with passing than either of them.

That is the reason why everybody thinks he will be so good.

Jingoist said...

Is Kevin Durant, the next David Robinson or the next Dirk? Problem is, even Robinson needed Duncan before the Spurs won a title, and Dirk could have used Nash last year to get over the hump in the Finals.

Point is, either "position defining" player comparison is, in itself, incomplete until a championship is produced. And with Durant we won't know that for at least, I say, 3 or 4 years.

thirdstringjd said...

The real issue of "Who's #1" will depend on who gets the first pick. I just don't see the Celtics taking Greg Oden with the #1 pick over Kevin Durant.

The Celtics have Al Jefferson right now who is probably their second best player after Pierce. Jefferson is a back to the basket and short face up PF/C who can't dribble or shoot from outside about 12 feet.

If they were to take Greg Oden, already having Jefferson, Pierce, West, Gomes, Rondo for a running team all of a sudden two of your top 3 talents are slow the ball down offensive threats and the entire "plan" that Danny Ainge had goes out the window and we're back to Jim O'Brien land.

Kevin Durant allows the Celtics to play up tempo, he can handle the ball from the perimeter, on the inside and most importantly with his face to the basket.

Doc Rivers, and Danny Ainge dont give a crap about defense so telling me that Oden might be the next Bill Russel on the defensive end doesn't mean the paper it's written on.

I say there is no way the Celtics pass up Durant with the #1 pick.

solomonrex said...

I don't think you draft for defense in this new era in the NBA. I would put the smaller, quicker Durant ahead of Oden.

Of course, Stern will probably change the rules again after Oden's in the league.

Ben said...

Ok, this is very hard to discuss amongst each other, as it takes a long time for comments to get posted.

Durant should go #1, he's shown what he can do, if you're taking at 36 year old Oden on potential then you're asking for another Darko problem.

Brian in Oxford said...

Then Danny Ainge must go. Can we trade him again for Ed Pinckney and Joe Kleine?

futurelegendvinceyoung said...

thirdstring it is not going to matter what Doc Rivers wants to do on offense or defense he is going to be out as coach next year.

nep1293 said...

I think Durant has been the best player in the country this year , but for the NBA I'd still have to take Oden. A dominant Center is so hard to find and are much more prominent on championship teams. Oden is still playing with 1 hand and he's been pretty darn good. I think Durant will put up a lot more WOW games and moments, but Oden will be the centerpiece of more title teams

futurelegendvinceyoung said...

third string, Doc Rivers is not going to be there next year. I doubt he will have much say on what players he wants and how they are going to play offense or defense.

Kevin said...

I would take Durant of today over Melo of today. Just because Melo won a Championship doesn't make him a team player, he is one of the most selfish players in the league, hence the reason for him being snubbed for the all star game.

PK said...

Until I see Oden play with two hands, I just can't make that call. If he still looks like a man amongst boys while averaging 20 and 10, it'll be hard for any team (regardless of current talent) to pass him up.

rafael said...

Kevin...Selfish players don['t make the all star team?!

Vince Carter?!?!?!?

Aldo Q said...

You know if the Heat finish with the 8th seed they'll get a lottery ball. I think the lottery includes all non playoff teams and then the worst playoff team. Wouldn't it be great for the Heat to make the playoffs and make a deep run, then get the .2% chance and land Oden or Durant? Well, for us Heat fans that is.

Jon said...

Durant is playing great, but I don't see how you can take him over Oden. Oden is on a team where he doesn't need to be the guy and is playing with his off hand. Durant will sell tickets, sneakers and gatorade, but Oden will help you win a championship.

CMFost said...

Dan, This new way of commenting is killing the Blog, bring back the old way and find a way to ban those people who try and ruin it for the rest of us. Thanks

Gary said...

Here's a thought...if Kevin Durant played four years in Texas,I know never happen, but if he did, he would have a legitimate shot at becoming the NCAAs all time leading scorer, possible the most difficult to achieve record in all of sports.

Pistol Pete scored 3,667 points in just 83 career games, that's 44.2 points per game.

Durant is averaging something like 32 points per game (in conference). And 25.4 points per game overall. If he plays 35 games per year for four years that's 140 games, averaging 25 points per game over that period of time he'd score 3,500 points.

If he gets better each year, he could presumably come close to Maravich's record by his senior year.

I guess it's a moot point, because he won't stay even until year two, but it's something interesting to think about (maybe?)

Andrew said...

The main thing to remember in the Durant/Oden debate for number 1 pick is that Oden is a natural center. I think this will come heavily into play.

On one hand, a natural center as good as Oden is, is very rare. On the other hand, teams have started to prove that you can win in today's NBA without one.

Still, I believe that this fact, coupled with the fact that he is a fantastic defender, will firmly place Oden in the number 1 spot.

P.S. Durant should still win NCAA POY.

solomonrex said...

I'm with Andrew.

Also, I thought it was fine how we beat the idiots back last time.

Whatever way you go, I'd prefer to see a post about it and chance for feedback. You can't just change comment systems with no discussion.

Stephen said...

I think the NBA rules changes have purposely moved the game away from defensive teams towards speed/passing/scoring team. Does this lessen Oden's impact on the game?

Roger said...

Carmelo had McNamara and Warrick as teammates. Pretty nice group of players.