On Monday evening, the Brooklyn Nets won their ninth straight, beating Cleveland 125-117. The Nets are now third in the Eastern Conference and are firing on all cylinders, mostly behind the play of Kevin Durant.
Durant is an all-time great and solidified his spot at 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, leapfrogging Tim Duncan, who previously held the spot. After the game, Durant gave a very humble, almost Duncan-esque response when asked about passing the Big Fundamental.
Now, while Durant is undoubtedly a better scorer than Duncan, there is pretty much nothing Durant can do to rank ahead of Duncan all-time. I have Timmy in my top five all-time, and I understand that I hold some bias, but I do not think Durant will ever be able to get that high.
Scoring isn't everything: Duncan wins every other category
At the age of 34, Durant is still posting 30 points a night. He’s a four-time scoring champ, 12-time All-Star, MVP, and twice been a Finals MVP, with two rings won on the Warriors. That’s an impressive resume, and he still has time to add to it, but Duncan will always have him beat.
Five rings, three Finals MVPs, 15 All-Star appearances, and 15 All-Defensive nods are a very tough resume to beat. Duncan is third all-time in regular season wins and dominated both ends of the floor for 20 years. Durant is a much better scorer, all but two of his seasons have seen him post more points per game than Duncan’s best season, but Duncan’s greatness goes beyond the numbers.
Duncan’s legacy of winning all with one team helps him take the cake. Durant’s 2012 Thunder were on the precipice of creating a dynasty, but losing James Harden and the eventual departure of Durant to Golden State held back OKC. Durant has two rings that he won with the Warriors, but he was not the clear-cut first option, and those Warriors teams were amazing before Durant got there.
To put it simply, Durant is a ring chaser. Is he a great player? Yup. Did he deserve an NBA 75th anniversary team mention? Yes. Will he be a first-ballot Hall of Famer? Yes, and yes, again. But Duncan placed a whole franchise, even a whole city, on his back for two decades, leading them to continual greatness. There was no superteam, minimal drama. Just wins in San Antonio. Duncan made his case to be a top-ten player at minimum, and Durant will never catch up.