A significant milestone was achieved by Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant last December 18, Philippine time, when he scored a free throw in the final minute of the second period against the Memphis Grizzlies.
That was Durant’s 21,792nd point of his NBA career, surpassing Bird’s 33rd best career accumulated score then.
It also put him closer to the top of elite small forwards, the top of which is occupied by Lebron James to this date.
It is a wonderful opportunity for my generation got to be able to watch the top three forwards of all-time in my opinion, with due respect to Julius Irving, Elgin Baylor, Scottie Pippen, John Havlicek, and Rick Barry.
Here’s how they stack up against each other statistically (stats as of December 21, 2018):
|Points per game||24.29||27.18||27.19|
|Rebounds per game||10.00||7.38||7.14|
|Assists per game||6.35||7.02||4.01|
|Steals per game||1.73||1.62||1.14|
|Blocks per game||0.84||0.78||1.11|
|Turnovers per game||3.14||3.47||3.16|
|Points per game||23.76||28.92||28.79|
|Rebounds per game||10.26||8.88||7.97|
|Assists per game||6.48||7.06||3.96|
|Steals per game||1.80||1.75||0.99|
|Blocks per game||0.88||0.97||1.19|
|Turnovers per game||3.09||3.62||3.11|
|All-star game appearances||12||14||9|
|Season MVPs won||3||4||1|
|Finals MVPs won||2||3||2|
|NBA First Team makes||9||12||6|
|All NBA Team makes||10||14||8|
|1st defensive team makes||–||5||–|
|All defensive team makes||3||6||–|
|Rookie of the year won||1||1||1|
Who is the best of the three, four if we are to include Irving?
It really depends on preference and perception.
In my opinion, James would be more difficult to stop or limit on the floor, Bird possess the best basketball talent, while Durant is the best floor spacer.
It would be difficult for any coach to find a match for James because he has the perfect body built and athletic ability to create a mismatch no matter who is guarding him.
The way Bird plays displayed an array of basketball savvy that could be hardly match by any forward, James included.
Observe how he passes even to teammates behind his back, how he fires shots even with people in front of him, how he follows his own shot, the way he handles the ball, how he positions for a rebound, the way he plays team defense.
He even rebounds better than his two more athletic contemporaries, Durant is also taller, and that is no accident. It talent and IQ that allows him to do so.
Both Durant and Bird are excellent and efficient shooters but Durant’s ability to drive to the basket and dunk forces his defender to be more straight and honest than Bird’s.
If I were a GM to form a team, these three would make my list in determining the foundation of my team.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS