By: Ross Geiger
Kevin Durant or Dwyane Wade?
When it comes to who’s the best basketball player in the world the conversation is filed down to NBA superstars in Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. While much of that debate may have been answered this past offseason, another controversial debate arises and remains unanswered: Who’s the best player in the NBA that went to college?
In past years, it was a no-brainer; Dwyane Wade out of Marquette University was clearly the league’s best player that played at the college ranks. But just in a matter of a couple year, another player has earned the right to be considered alongside D-Wade, his name: Kevin Durant.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star swingman out of Texas has continued to improve and impress year in and year out since joining the league in 2007. Drafted 2nd overall by the Seattle Supersonics, Durant, from the jump, was an underrated young talent as the Portland Trail Blazers decided upon selecting Greg Oden over Durant in a very hyped up debacle of which would make the better #1 overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft.
Since then, Durant has turned that debate into a comical joke as he’s clearly proven he was the better of the two draft top picks. Whether you want to consider it fairly or unfairly, due to Oden’s injury, Durant took home the 2007 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. But I’m willing to bet that Oden wouldn’t of even came close to posting comparable rookie numbers to those of Durant’s 20.3 pgg, 4.4 rpg, and 2.4 apg nightly.
In his following sophomore season, Durant built upon those numbers and his status as one of the league’s top young guns was confirmed. During the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix, Durant showed the NBA World what the league could expect in the near future. In the Rookie-Sophomore Game, Durant carried his sophomore team to victory by breaking the scoring record with 46 points. Coincidentally the old mark was held by Phoenix’s own (at the time) Amar’e Stoudemire, when he put up 36 points for the sophomore team in 2004. The very next day, Durant participated in the NBA’s first H-O-R-S-E contest and Durant took home the crown for that as well, taking down Hawks guard Joe Johnson and Grizzlies rookie O.J. Mayo. This all came during a year in which the Seattle Supersonics were relocated from Seattle to Oklahoma City where they became the Thunder. All-Star Weekend was a great time for the Thunder’s young leader to put his team as well as his name on the map. Durant finished his second season in the league improving upon nearly each and every statistical category and percentages (except BPG & FT%), averaging 25.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 2.8 apg.
Showing rapid improvements upon entering the league, nobody had the slightest idea what to expect from Kevin Durant as he entered his third year in the NBA this past season. Once again, Durant, nicknamed “The Durantula”, didn’t disappoint. He earned tons of accolades including becoming an NBA All-Star for the first time, winning his second straight H-O-R-S-E competition, and even coaching the rookies in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge. But none of those achievements are as historical as his last as he took home the NBA’s scoring title averaging 30.1 points per game, becoming the youngest in league history to win the scoring title at only 21 years of age. He broke LeBron James’s record becoming the youngest and on his way to doing that he also broke Allen Iverson’s record number of games scoring at least 25 points.
But maybe the most impressive achievement of all was Durant’s leadership. He led his team to a very unexpected playoff berth with the Thunder finishing their season with 50 wins, which earned him the last and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Winning 50 games was a 27 game improvement for the Thunder, making their season the sixth biggest turnaround in NBA history. In the playoffs, Durant’s team held their own agains the defending NBA World Champion Los Angeles Lakers stretching the series to a tough 6 games before losing 4-2 on a buzzer-beating tip in by Pau Gasol. At the end of the year, Durant finished second in the MVP voting behind LeBron James and was honored with a spot on the 2010 All-NBA First Team, that included LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, and yup, you guessed it, Dwyane Wade….
Wade and Durant are the only two superstars among the top names on the 2010 All-NBA First Team list that went to college. Wade’s popularity is slowly becoming rivaled with Durant’s as both should be mentioned in the same sentence together. Among Wade’s notable achievements, he was awarded Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 2006, has had the top selling jersey in the NBA for nearly two years to go with his NBA Championship and Finals MVP.
Much like Durant’s incredible third season in the league, D-Wade also shined bright during his third year. Wade helped carry the Miami Heat, along with Shaquille O’Neal, to the Heat’s first NBA Championship in franchise history. At the conclusion of the 2006 NBA Finals, Wade also took home the 2006 NBA Finals MVP. Just for good measure, Wade led the league in scoring in 2008-2009.
Of the five superstars named to last season’s 2010 All-NBA First Team, Durant was the only player that was not a member of Team USA’s Gold Medal team. The only reason for that was age and inexperience. Durant is now the captain of the Team USA basketball and is well on his way of matching many of the accomplishments Wade’s already earned.
While Dwyane Wade’s NBA career may have 4 more years of experience and accomplishments under his belt, does Kevin Durant have a shot at being named the best NBA player that went to college as soon as this upcoming season?
Let Us Know What You Think!
28 Years Old
College: Marquette University
Drafted 5th Overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat
Has been a member of the Heat his entire career
2006 NBA Champion & 2006 NBA Finals MVP
6-Time NBA All-Star
NBA Scoring Champion (2009)
2-Time All-NBA First Team
2-Time All-NBA Second Team
1-Time All-NBA Third Team
3-Time All-Defensive Second Team
2004 NBA All-Rookie First Team
2010 NBA All-Star MVP
2-Time Skills Challenge Champion
2006 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year
21 Years Old
Drafted 2nd overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics
Has been a member of the Supersonics/Thunder his entire career
1-Time NBA All-Star
NBA Scoring Champion (2010)
All-NBA First Team
2-Time H-O-R-S-E Competition Winner
2008 NBA Rookie of the Year
NBA All-Rookie First Team