Golden State Warriors: Is Stephen Curry actually better than Kevin Durant?

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 07: Stephen Curry
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 07: Stephen Curry /

The Golden State Warriors have two MVPs in Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. Sports Illustrated ranked Durant over Cury, but is that accurate?

Sports Illustrated completed their list of the Top 100 NBA players heading into the 2017-2018 season. It, naturally, had controversy associated with it. Unless you have a vested interest in players like James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kawhi Leonard, you were OK with the top three players in the league.

SI ranked LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry as the three best players in the Association. That’s the right decision. The three superstars who just put on a show in the NBA Finals stand alone in the highest tier in the league.

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LeBron James deserves that number one spot. Though the players behind him are quickly gaining ground, he has been the best for a very long time. We might be near the end of the King’s reign over the NBA, it’s not unfair to say that he still belongs at the top.

But it might not be a foregone conclusion that Durant is second and Curry is third. Could it be possible that the two Warriors stars belong in each other’s spots? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask that question.

Yes, Durant is like a larger Curry. He can get his shot off from anywhere and he elevated his defense to an elite level this past season. His offensive impact at its peak might not be as high as Curry’s.

Curry’s plus-minus has been second-to-none during this historic run. This becomes even greater in the playoffs, where he really shines. Nearly every Golden State Warriors saw a drastic increase in their true shooting percentage when they were on the floor with Curry versus when he was on the bench.

Curry didn’t have the NBA Finals series that Durant had partly because, as he did all season long, he took a backseat. He also didn’t have the series Durant did, especially in terms of scoring the ball, because the Cleveland Cavaliers game planned for the point guard. He was the Cavalier defense’s top priority.

Throughout the five games, they constantly threw double teams in his direction. Curry would find himself surrounded by two and, sometimes, even three defenders as soon as he crossed half court. Despite that, he still nearly averaged a triple-double, posting a cool 26.8 points, 9.4 assists, and 8.0 rebounds per contest.

The Golden State Warriors played their best basketball of the season when Durant was hurt and Curry took the lead. They looked like the team that won 73 games in a regular season the year after they won the title. They looked like the team that enticed Durant to join them.

Durant is incredible and his defense is, definitely, better than Curry’s. But what the 6’3 sniper can do to an opposing defense is unparalleled. They crumble at his feet. Though the importance of defense cannot be stressed enough, offense is more valuable in today’s NBA.

Curry’s offensive impact is uniquely his. The way he disrupts, stretches out, and destroys defenses is something no one has ever done before. He, clearly, makes everyone else around him better, especially Durant. Just by stepping onto a court, the game comes easier for his teammates and he ruins his opponent’s day.

Durant is an absolute monster, though. There really isn’t anything he can’t do well on a basketball court. He can finish at the rim, post up, and knock down threes. He can rebound and defend anyone on a court.

There is no wrong answer here. There’s a case to be made that Durant might be better in a vacuum, but Curry can more easily turn a team into a winner. Curry is clearly the more valuable player in Golden State’s system.

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Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who is better. It’s like asking “which stack of one million dollars do you like better: the one in your right hand or left hand?” Either way, you’re still a multi-millionaire.

Debating who is better between Steph Curry and Kevin Durant is a problem the Golden State Warriors are more than happy to have.