To preface this post, I am writing this as of 9:00 left in the 4th quarter of game 4 between the Rockets and Warriors. I say that because unless KD manages to put up 50 points in the 4Q and OT, this post is 100% accurate. If that somehow does happen, then just ignore everything I’m about to say, but I’d say the odds are in my favor. With that being said, let’s get right into why #2 up in Toronto (as Skip Bayless loves to call him) is undoubtedly the best player in the NBA playoffs this season.
Let’s just start by going over what Kawhi has been able to do so far against the Philadelphia 76ers in 4 games. We know how highly regarded he is as a lockdown defender around the NBA, but he has also been huge on the offensive end so far in this series. 38 PPG on 62% from the field, and he’s not just getting that at the rim. The Claw has been incredible from long range as well, shooting over 46% from the three.
These scoring numbers are something that we haven’t necessarily seen from Kawhi to this point in his career, but Toronto has needed every single bucket. Despite previous all-star ballots, Kyle Lowry may just be the worst postseason player that I’ve seen in my life. Every single year we hear talk of the Raptors getting over the hump and contending for a championship, and then we’ll see a 7 point- (-28) performance from Lowry. Without Kawhi, this team is very likely already out of these playoffs, and sure as heck would not be matching the firepower of the 76ers.
It’s very likely that the Sixers have 5 of the 6 best players in this series, and Kawhi is handling them by himself. His team is essentially useless every time that they hit crunch-time, yet nobody can seem to stop him. Kevin Durant on the other hand, has also been special, but not better. Posting an impressive 36-5-5 stat line on 46% from the field, KD has been a key for the defending Golden State Warriors.
While these are stats that we don’t see in the NBA vey often, KD is supposedly the “best scorer in NBA history”, and he’s not even been the best scorer in these playoffs. On top of that, while he might be the best player on his own team, he might not even be the most important. What KD did back in the Summer of 2016 could very well be the reason that he will never be in the discussion for best player in the NBA in the eyes of many; he joined the greatest team of all time. plain and simple, there is simply too much talent around KD in order for him to be considered the greatest basketball player in the world, and especially disqualifies him in the GOAT talks.
There is no questioning the talent that KD possesses, but to ignore the fact that he joined a 73-9 team after blowing a 3-1 lead to that same team in the Western Conference Finals would be willful ignorance. This team is the single greatest collection of talent that we have seen on any one team, in any sport in history. For that reason, as well as the fact that the numbers simply do not back the ideology that Durant is a better player than Kawhi currently in these playoffs, nor the idea that he has any chance whatsoever of passing LeBron/Jordan in the GOAT discussion.
Though I still believe fully that LeBron James is still the best player in the NBA, the Lakers did not make the playoffs so for the sake of this debate I wanted to keep the argument within these parameters. With that being said, contrary to what the ESPN and FS1 talking heads may tell you, it is clear that Kawhi Leonard has put up the best performance, with the least help to work with, against the best collection of talent in these NBA playoffs. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like everything I need to have in order to crown someone the best at something, and through 4 games/series of the NBA playoffs 2nd round, Kawhi Leonard is the best player, not Kevin Durant.