Kevin Durant's streak more impressive than Michael Jordan's

Kevin Durant's streak more impressive than Michael Jordan's

Michael Jordan’s got six reasons why he’s a better player than Kevin Durant, on top of all the other reasons watching the two play. Kevin Durant’s never winning a defensive MVP, and Jordan has the better all around game by a good margin. That said, Kevin Durant’s 25 point scoring streak is easily more impressive than Jordan’s.

Pace of the game

The Pace of the NBA reflects how many possessions each team has to work with in a typical game. The higher the pace the more possessions there were to work with.

High pace is why Oscar Robertson averaged a triple double, Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50 points a game, and all kinds of records will never be broken from that era.

It’s why guys in the 60s could average 20+ rebounds a game even though their rebounding percentage wasn’t notably different than guys in today’s era.

In the 86-87 the average league pace was 100.8 possessions per team, per game. While the average pace now is 93.9. This means Michael Jordan had more possessions in a game to hit his 25 points than Kevin Durant had.

But who touched the ball more?

Beyond the number of possessions which also comes into play is how many of those possessions did each player use? As it turns out, Jordan had a sizable edge here as well.

Michael Jordan had a usage rate of 38.3 during the 1986-1987 compared to a usage rate of just 32.9 for Kevin Durant this season. That means Durant is using fewer of his teams possessions than Jordan.

This stat is only measured while each player was on the floor, except Jordan averaged 40 minutes per game to Durant’s 38.5, so in terms of floor time, Jordan gets another advantage as well.

This is backed up by TS% which shows how efficiently each player scores. Jordan’s percentage was a very good 56.2% though that’s actually below his career average. Kevin Durant’s sizzling 64.1% TS% annihilates even Jordan’s best in terms of scoring efficiency though.

Durant’s career 60% TS% is in the “insane” category for how good it is as Jordan’s career average was 56.9% and his career high is 61.4% with only four years above the 60% mark Durant is averaging so far.

Durant has been above 60% four times in seven years so far.

The defense in Durant’s era is better than Jordan’s

I know this will fly in the face of old fogey’s who want to talk about hand checking and rule changes, but as it turns out, the league average defensive rating this season is 106.5 vs a 108.3 in the Jordan era.

This means that whatever rules were in place, teams were scoring more points per 100 possessions in Jordan’s era than they were in the present era.

The advent of zone defenses have made scoring for individuals tougher as well as teams can now mob guys at the basket more easily. It’s harder to get guys in a pure isolation than in the past.

Jordan’s the best, but give Durant his due

I’m a Bulls guy, and obviously no one can touch Jordan in terms of elite players to me. If my team needed a basket, I’m still taking Jordan over Durant as well.

Jordan’s streak was more a measure of the Bulls at the time. His insane usage rate combined with 40 minutes a night got him this streak despite not having all that efficient of a season scoring the ball.

Durant’s streak didn’t ride on him taking over the whole team nearly so much and came while he turned the Thunder into an elite team.

Sure, I’m taking Jordan for a slew of reasons to long to name as the better player, and I doubt Durant would argue that one either. That said, Durant’s streak is the far more impressive of the two.


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  • Kevin Durant vs. Michael Jordan as scorers in their own eras? I don't mind generational player or accomplishment comparisons once in a while but 25 point game streaks? Not feeling it like I do with a 30 point streak but whatever.

    I doubt Kevin Durant. LeBron etc. enjoy their lives bombarded daily with meteoric fragments from the stellar blast we make out of the Michael Jordan era. But these comparisons evoke emotional response as in ratings money. Hypocritically I will offer that Durant's current run is impressive, and he seems more humble and likable then some other out there stars of today's game. I wish we had him on our team. I don't necessarily see the ego in him to be a killer as in three or more rings, but who knows. As a scorer, at 6'10 he's very versatile and one of the few really entertaining players in the league today so I'll give him his due. Michael Jordan I think most would agree is the better player as well as scorer, but if someone as in stat wonks wants to think Durant outdoes him in the latter category, fine.

    Personally, I find Quantifying streaks, careers etc. over done by stat geeks who really have a desire to be 'right' along with a one dimensional picture of the game. Kareem, sky hook, unstoppable, add Magic and stir. Jordan, a one man wrecking crew armed with HOF system and cadre of great teammates. Those are enjoyable people and moments more then they are about stats. Enough said.

  • Interesting. Durant is my favorite active non-Bulls player , so I don't him being compared to MJ at all.

    After evaluating all the LeBron/MJ talk over the years, I've gotten more context for why MJ was so great. If we compare KD this year to MJ's best (90-91), KD has the advantage in most offensive categories, but MJ still scored two more points per 100 possessions (125 vs. 123) because his turnover % is much lower than Durant's (8.7 vs 12.5) despite identical usage (32.9%). It's insane how low MJ's turnover rate was considering how much he had the ball in his hands. The other thing that's striking about Jordan is how good of an offensive rebounder he was. He was better at it than LeBron or Durant despite their size advantage.

  • I compare Jordan and Durant, or for now LeBron and Durant, in the same way that Joe Dimaggio and Ted Williams were once compared. DiMaggio was anointed the "greatest living ball player" while Williams carried the distinction of being the "greatest hitter". Jordan is the greatest player ever and LBJ is the greatest active player, while Durant probably is the greatest scorer of the last 20 years and just maybe the greatest scorer of all time by the time he is finished.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    You clearly should have stopped at 20 years, which at least cuts off Jordan's most productive years. However, it is silly to even bring up the all time stuff; besides Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain begs to differ, (since he isn't around to defend himself, RIP big dipper) Bill Russell will. and if Chamberlain isn't the answer, check out a little guy named Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I said maybe. If he stays healthy he can rack up a lot more points, while maintaining excellent efficiency. Chamberlain is tough for anyone to compare to. It's a bit like trying to compare Babe Ruth to anyone else in baseball. For my money Willie Mays was the best player ever but I get that Ruth dominated the game in his time more than any player in history.

    But just for kicks let's look at career TS%. Abdul-Jabbar (59.2), Jordan (56.9), Chamberlain (54.7) and Durant (60.0). Now those other three include the stats from the downward years of their career. Chamberlain had only three years with a TS% above 60 and two of those were his last two years in the league when he hardly looked to score anymore. Jordan had four years of 60 or above, the same as Durant will have after this year. Jabbar will be the tough one to catch. He had 11 seasons over 60 and really only trailed off in the last two years of his career. But Durant came into the league as a younger man than A-J and is a more diverse scorer, though A-J had the single greatest offensive weapon in the game's history. If Durant decides to play a long time he might have a chance of being thought of as the greatest scorer ever.

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