Our final matchup of the first round features a number one seed against a young upstart. The first player is Kevin Durant, who many consider to be the “real MVP” of the decade. His scoring ability and multiple championships and finals MVP’s make him a juggernaut. The second player is Luka Doncic, who in a short period of time has captivated the NBA. The guy is already on his way to being a top player in the league and he just squeaked onto the list. So who had the better decade and who should win this matchup?
Pros of Kevin Durant
- Regular Season & Finals MVP’s: Kevin Durant always performed, whether it was a regular-season game of the NBA finals. Kevin took home the league MVP award in 2014 after averaging 32 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Once Kevin joined Golden State he also won finals MVP in 2017 and 2018. Quite the MVP trophy rack Durant is building.
- All-Time Scorer: Inside, outside, post or midrange, Kevin Durant can score on you so many ways. Durant joined the 50-40-90 club in 2013 and also was a four-time scoring champion in the decade. Kevin is also a career 49% from the field, 38% from three and 88% at the free-throw line. When all is said and done we could be looking at the greatest scorer in NBA history.
- Awards Galore: It was not just MVPs and scoring titles that Kevin Durant won this decade. Durant was an all-star every single season this decade. Durant was also a six-time All-NBA First team and three-time All-NBA Second team. Lastly, he also was the All-Star game MVP twice, so Durant took home awards every year this decade.
Cons of Kevin Durant
- NBA’s Biggest Coward: Kevin Durant struggled mightily to find playoff success in Oklahoma City. They lost to Lebron James in the 2012 NBA Finals and blew a 3-1 lead versus Golden State in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. Kevin then sold his soul to the devil by joining Golden State the very next year. Durant may have won titles, but he did so in a cowardly way.
- Mentally Weak: Kevin Durant has often been called soft by many in the media and by contemporaries as well. Durant has taken to social media many times to make his feelings known, which many views as him not handling criticism well. This relates back to the first point as well. Kevin joining Golden State was him not being mentally strong enough to overcome or beat them.
- Average Defender: For such a quick six foot eleven small forward, Kevin Durant has never taken home a defensive honor. Kevin is a career steal and block per game guy but never has been rewarded for his efforts. We are by no means calling him a poor defender, but average is about right for the Slim Reaper.
Pros of Luka Doncic
- Walking Triple-Double: Since stepping foot in the NBA Luka Doncic has proven to be a great all-around talent. Luka has proven to be a good scorer from many different spots on the floor. He rebounds and passes very well for a player that is six foot seven. He is also very crafty for a player with little athleticism. This makes him a triple-double threat every night.
- Incredibly Talented Overseas: Luka joined EuroLeague powerhouse Real Madrid at just fifteen years old. He went on to become the EuroLeague MVP at just eighteen years old. That same year he was also EuroLeague champion and Final Four MVP. Luka may not have spent much of the decade in the NBA, but he played phenomenal overseas in the EuroLeague.
- Best Rookie In 2018-19: This past season was a pretty great rookie class. Luka was able to outshine players like Trae Young and Deandre Ayton to take home Rookie of the Year honors. He averaged over 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists in doing so. Luka was the clear rookie of the year and deserves a huge amount of credit for beating out those other guys.
Cons of Luka Doncic
- Very Limited Decade Play: Luka Doncic barely played one hundred games this decade. While he was incredibly impressive in those games, it was controversial even having him on the list. Other players like Bradley Beal and Demar Derozan were great for nearly the entire decade. Obviously Luka is going to be great this next decade, but his limited body of work in the 2010s is a knock on him.
- No Playoff Appearances: In Lukas one full season the Dallas Mavericks the missed the playoffs badly. They finished at just 33-49, which was second-worst in the conference and fifteen games back of the eight seed Clippers. With no playoff track record to go off of we do not know how Luka performs on the biggest stage.
- Not Yet An All-Star: Luka is likely on pace to be an all-star in 2020, but he was not an all-star this past decade. With no all-star selections, it is incredibly tough to really pump Luka’s tires. He will be for the next decade to come, but he was not this past decade.
Much like the other one versus eight seed matchups, this is not a close one. Kevin Durant played more regular-season games, more playoff games, averaged more points, rebounds, and blocks. Luka will be a transcendent star likely this next decade, but it was questionable to even feature him in our bracket. That said, no player that replaced him could take on Kevin Durant in this matchup. Kevin Durant by a mile in this one.
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