Durant, according to Lebron James, could have a “chance to unseat Kareem Abdul-Jabbar” as the all-time leading scorer. He also called Durant a, “7-footer with 6-foot ball-handling skills and a jump shot, and athleticism. It’s never been done in our league. Never had a guy that’s 7 foot, can jump like that, can shoot like that, handle the ball like that. So it sets him apart.” This is high praise from Lebron, it is also an exaggeration and here is why…
Durant is 6’9″, not a 7 footer. So, while Lebron is right that no 7 footer has combined Durant’s skills, Durant is not that guy either. Lebron’s claim that Durant’s combination of size and skill-set is something that we have never seen is also wrong. If we are going to exaggerate Durant’s height by 3 inches, Lebron, I can think of two other tall, thin, athletic,
skilled scoring champs that immediately come to mind…6’7″ George Gervin (above) and 6’8″ Tracy McGrady (left), both great scorers with very similar skill-sets to Durant’s. So is Durant’s combination really completely unprecedented?
Next, KD has had a great start to his career, but he will not be catching Kareem on the all-time scoring list. Not only did Kareem play 20 seasons, but he also played in at least 79 games in 15 of those seasons, never playing fewer than 65 games. In Durant’s 8+ seasons, KD has already played less than 79 games 5 times (including this year where
he has already missed more than 3 games). Total scoring is not just about scoring average, but total points per season. In Kareem’s first 8 seasons, he enjoyed seven 2,000 point seasons, KD has topped 2,000 points just four times. Jabbar scored more total points as a 41 year old than KD scored last year as a sidelined 26 year old. Scoring isn’t just about ability to score, it’s about health. So far as pure numbers are concerned, KD would have to double his current point total of 16,058 and add another 6,000 points and he would still be short of Kareem’s 38,387. In today’s more athletic NBA it is unlikely that KD will be able to play at the high level Kareem did until after the age of 40.
Lebron is right in his assessment that Durant is really, really good, but there is no need to exaggerate only to make your opponent feel good about himself prior to a big match-up.