Is Kevin Durant the Only Player Who's 'Next in Line' Behind LeBron James?

Brendan BowersContributor IINovember 20, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder moves the ball in the post in the first quarter against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Kevin Durant is the only player who's "next in line" behind LeBron James because of his ability to score the basketball.

As crazy as this sounds now, Durant might actually have moved past James last season if he won his first NBA championship before LeBron did.

That looked very possible after the Oklahoma City Thunder won Game One of the NBA Finals.

On the strength of LeBron and the Miami Heat closing Durant and his Thunder out from there, however, the league's best player continues to be James.

But Durant is next in line after that because nobody else can score like he can.

Kevin Durant is the most prolific scorer in the NBA  

In each of the last three seasons, Kevin Durant has won the NBA scoring title.

This season is Durant's sixth in the NBA. Which means that for more than half of his career, heading into this year, Durant averaged more points per game than anyone else in the league.

LeBron, in his 10th season this year, has won only one scoring title (2008).

As of Monday, Durant and James were currently third and fourth in terms of scoring this season. Each player averaging 24.5 point per game.

Durant showed up big in the NBA Finals

What's lost in LeBron's heroics last summer is that Durant did average 30.6 points and six rebounds per game opposite James in his first ever NBA Finals appearance. 

During LeBron's first finals run in 2007, he averaged only 22 points.

Performing well on the biggest stage is what inevitably defines a superstar in today's NBA. Durant has shown enough to prove that he will continue to challenge LeBron during those moments when it matters most for years to come.

KD is deadly attacking the rim

Last season, Kevin Durant converted 72.2 percent of his field goal attempts at the rim. In the NBA Finals he demonstrated this ability against Shane Battier.

In the video above, Durant attacks the 6'9" Battier and dunks right on one of the better defenders in the league.

Durant didn't hesitate and simply went right through Battier for the hoop. There isn't anybody in the NBA who can stop him either when Kevin makes a decision like that.

While at the same time, Durant is also exceptional from the perimeter

Durant improved his three-point field goal percentage last season to 39 percent. This was up from 35 percent the previous year.

During his first 11 games this season, as of Monday, Durant is continuing to improve in this category. So far this year he connecting from long-range at a 47 percent clip.

Last season during the Western Conference Finals, Durant hit this nasty three as the shot clock expired.

He made this basket look easy and put his team up late in a critical game by knocking it down.