LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant: Who is Better?

Eric StrellerContributor IIOctober 14, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 8: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder hugs LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat before the game on October 8, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.  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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2010 NBAE  (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The LeBron James versus Kevin Durant debate has been a hot topic lately and it is one that will never be truly settled. It is simply a matter of opinion; therefore, we will never come to a definitive conclusion for one side or the other.

LeBron fans are always going to say LeBron is better, and Durant fans will say he is better. However, according to recent statements by players and a survey of the league’s general managers, Kevin Durant is the better player.

That is hard for a lot of people to come to grips with. There are two types of people who won’t even consider Durant as a better player than James: die-hard LeBron fans and those who have not had a lot of exposure to Durant. Anyone else realizes that Durant versus James is a legitimate argument, despite which player they feel is actually better.

Most recently, Ron Artest said, “He’s the second best player in the league,” speaking of Durant. Granted, Artest, one of the league’s premier defenders, is only sane about 50 percent of the time, but he has spent an ample amount of time guarding both players. 

When Dwight Howard was asked who is better, he simply responded, “I’m gonna go with Kevin.” Another NBA All-Star is giving the nod to Durant.

For whatever reasons, both Artest and Howard believe that Durant is better than James. They’ve both watched and played against both guys, so you have to give some credit to their opinion on the subject.

In a recent survey of the NBA general managers, we learn a bit more about what the front office personnel think about the debate. When asked who would win the 2010-11 NBA MVP, Durant received 66.7 percent of the votes, while LeBron earned under five percent.

This could be a little deceiving, because on LeBron’s new team, it will be a bit more difficult for him to be the MVP. Maybe that’s what they’re considering?

The next question is the most telling. When asked if they could sign any player to start a new franchise, 55.6 percent chose Durant, while 25.9 percent chose LeBron.

Now this is the one thing that stuck out to me the most. These men are paid big bucks to put together the best players to make the best teams. For the most part, they know what they’re doing.

If over 50 percent of GMs would prefer to start a franchise with Kevin Durant as their centerpiece over LeBron or any other player, doesn’t that point to Durant being the better player? It definitely shows that he is a more important player.

Another interesting part of this survey was the individual position rankings. LeBron received 67.9 percent of the votes as the best small forward, while Durant came in second with 28.6 percent.

At first glance, that appears to contradict the previous survey questions. However, the GMs also voted Durant as the third-best shooting guard and third-best power forward.

LeBron received no votes in any position outside of small forward. This shows that the GMs consider Durant a much more versatile player, rather than being confined to one position.

Most of the time, individual opinions are presented in defense of LeBron or Durant, but the statements and numbers above are facts. When truly looking at who is the better player, you have to check all of your biases at the door.

It doesn’t matter which player you like more. If you hate LeBron because of his offseason antics, you can’t automatically say Durant is better. If you’re a Miami Heat fan, you can’t immediately come to LeBron’s defense and choose him as the better player simply because he’s the newest toy in town.

Watch both players play and think about the things that make a player better. Which one makes his teammates better? Which player is more versatile? Which is the better scorer? Which is the better defender?

The hype that has surrounded James since he was a freshman in high school has conditioned a lot of people to believe that he is “out of this world” good. This conditioned mentality has caused some people to consider LeBron on a different level than anyone else. Well, it’s time for a wake-up call.

Ron Artest and Dwight Howard will confirm my next statement, but more importantly, the NBA general managers will. You cannot discount the opinions of the men who are in charge of deciphering the league’s best talent.

LeBron James is not the best player in the NBA, and he’s not the second-best player in the NBA.