Kevin Durant has been on fire during the 2019 postseason.
He’s averaging 34.3 points per game through eight playoff matchups. That includes a 50-point effort to seal Golden State’s 4-2 series win over the Clippers and a 29-point performance to go up 2-0 on Houston.
Durant has always been considered one of the top players in the game, but there’s now conversation surrounding whether he’s THE best player in the NBA.
“Kevin’s run this past week has just been off the charts. I’ve said it a few times this week: He’s the most skilled basketball player on Earth,” Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr recently said at a media session.
“He’s one of the most skilled basketball players to ever play the game.”
While Durant’s brilliance has been a main talking point this postseason, he also dominated during the regular season. Take a closer look at the numbers below.
|Kevin Durant’s Splits||Points||FG %||3-point %||Assists||Rebounds|
|2019 Regular Season||26.0||52.1||35.3||5.9||6.4|
Not only is Durant shooting better from behind the arc and finding more ways to score during the playoffs, but his defense has also improved. And when you add all these factors together, it’s easy to understand why many believe he’s currently the best player in the world.
But if we’re being honest, is he even the best player on his own team?
Enter Steph Curry, whose consistency over the past year has been masked by Durant’s scoring bump and incredible performances in the 2019 postseason.
|Steph Curry’s Splits||Points||FG %||3-point %||Assists||Rebounds|
|2019 Regular Season||27.3||47.2||43.7||5.2||5.3|
Curry’s efficiency is key for the Warriors.
The consistent nature of his scoring, even if his raw numbers have dipped, provides a floor for Golden State to run its high-scoring offense — Golden State’s 120.8 points per game and 118.8 offensive rating are the best among playoff teams, according to NBA.com.
What’s also worth noting is Curry’s impact on Golden State’s system, which is predicated on floor spacing and ball movement. The point guard’s presence as a creator and shooter opens up the rest of the team, including Durant. With defenses focused on limiting Curry from behind the arc, the rest of the Warriors can attack the opposition more favorably.
In the regular season, Curry had the third-highest plus-minus while playing in 69 games (33.8 minutes per contest). The two players ahead of him only appeared in one game each for 25.7 and 8.0 minutes, respectively. Curry ranks 15th in net rating, but climbs to first when you factor in games played as a qualifying statistic.
None of this is to say that Durant is overrated or undeserving of his praise — he’s fifth in net rating among qualified players. But the advanced data says he’s not Golden State’s best offensive player despite his ridiculous scoring average.
|Postseason Splits (via NBA.com)||Offensive Rating||Net Rating|
With Curry suffering a dislocated finger in Game 2, his play will be worth monitoring. However, the advanced data still points to him being the focal point of Golden State’s spectacular offense, even if his individual performances might not show it.
As the Warriors look to become just the fourth franchise in NBA history to three-peat, Curry will play a bigger role for Golden State than Durant. And while it’s possible that Durant continues to steal headlines with his insane scoring, Steph’s consistency is what will ultimately be the difference in the Bay.