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Kevin Durant Is Already An All-Time Great Scorer

Kevin Durant isn’t just the league’s best scorer at this point, but is actually projected to end up somewhere among the all-time greats.

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“KD [Kevin Durant] is a special player,” head coach Scott Brooks said when asked about Durant earlier this season. “Some nights he’s going to have a high-scoring game, but I just like the way he thinks. He thinks about the team. He [takes] great shots and everybody else gets involved.”

That’s particularly what’s so “special” about Durant, as even though he is the most lethal scoring force in the NBA, he still maintains the team’s best interest in mind while out there dominating on most nights. It just so happens that on many nights, his scoring prowess is precisely what the team needs; whether pacing the offense over the course of the action or picking moments to assert himself for a lightning-quick 15-point personal blitz Durant is prone to do at the drop of a hat.

Although not a fan of the popular trend of placing every single achievement or milestone into a historical context as it has become so much of the commonplace, Durant’s current scoring streak is cause to really take a look at where he could someday wind up in terms of the league’s all-time scorers. It isn’t just a matter of Durant tying Michael Jordan’s streak of 40-consecutive games with at least 25 (or more) points, but the manner by which he’s going about it. Not only does he make scoring look easy on many nights, but the fact that he willingly shares the spotlight with another scorer in Russell Westbrook while leading his team (and the league) in points per game (32.1) makes it even more impressive.

Durant has been a topic of our top-player discussions throughout the season, as his all-around development has been so remarkable that he may very well ultimately eclipse LeBron James as the league’s MVP once voting has been completed. He truly has the total package, not only as a scorer, but as a defender, playmaker, and perhaps most importantly as a leader.

Beyond this year, and likely for the duration of each of their careers, James and Durant will see their names placed alongside one another in terms of both accolades and overall success whether they like it or not. While James has the benefit of four additional seasons, including the latest stretch as the leader of Miami’s dynamic trio, Durant appears to be coming on strong as he conceivably hasn’t even reached the apex of his career.

At just 25 years old, the wiry Durant has clearly worked on his body, strength, and conditioning throughout the years. Although he’ll always have a relatively thin frame, Durant is much stronger than he appears and tends to outlast opponents. Listed at 6’9, he may actually possess a skill set unable to be compared to anything we’ve seen before. With the range to shoot from literally anywhere on the floor and the ability to both break his man down off the dribble or cause damage from the mid-post, areas of weakness are becoming more and more difficult to find. In fact, he does just about everything well on the court while continuing to strive to improve upon all facets of the game.

“He’s going to figure out a way to score,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said of Durant. “We try to stop him but he still gets his shot off, gets to the line, and does what he does no matter what. That’s who Kevin Durant is. That’s why he’s so great.”

High praise, especially from someone that has seen and coached against his fair share of the league’s premier scorers (Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, James, Carmelo Anthony) over the past 18 seasons, but the type of comments most of his contemporaries and even Durant’s predecessors have also openly shared. Although there was some debate over who boasted the league’s proverbial “best” or “most complete” scoring arsenal in years past, Durant has clearly separated himself from James, Anthony, and dare we say even a healthy Bryant as the NBA’s most dominant scoring force at this point.

Durant, recently paid Bryant the highest respect you can bestow upon a fellow competitor (past mentor or not) when he mentioned the 18-year veteran as one of the league greatest and most skilled players in history alongside Jordan.

While Durant, himself, can remain grounded, that won’t stop the praise coming from this direction.

He’ll be somewhere near 14,800 career points at the end of just his seventh year in the league, which is comparable with any of the top scorers, and even more favorable than some. By contrast, Bryant’s best seven-year scoring stretch (2002-2009) featured 15,623 points, and we’ll remind you that Durant only appears to be approaching his prime years.

Obviously, the historical conversation may still be considered a bit premature to some, but Durant has also shown the type of rare durability to go along with the maintained excellence it takes to even consider potentially surpassing some of the league’s greatest scorers in history. All-time leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 total points loom incredibly large over the rest, but it really isn’t crazy to imagine Durant getting to at least within the 32-33,000 point range by the time he’s reached his early-to-mid 30’s if he’s able to stay relatively healthy. Having competed in over 97 percent of Oklahoma City’s total regular season games throughout his career, the longevity odds appear to be far more in Durant’s favor than others.

If he does maintain this pace and is able to make it into the top group, he’ll likely have plenty of company, as Bryant is currently only 592 points behind Jordan and third on the all-time list. Even if he were to play the presumed final two years of his career at a considerably slower pace, he’ll probably be waiting for Durant somewhere within that range. And then there’s the aforementioned James (remember him?). As the league’s fastest man to 23,000 career points, James is almost guaranteed to be somewhere within the top four by that time as well.

Even though Durant has mentioned being tired of living within James’ understandably large shadow, their rivalry could not only lead to additional future showdowns in the Finals, but will almost undoubtedly end up spurring each of their individual accomplishments along as well. Not that Durant is solely motivated personal goals, but the ultra-competitor that resides within one of the more humble, bona fide superstars in recent memory is sure to consider the possibilities at least in the back of his mind. It would almost be completely against human nature not to.

Jabari Davis is a senior NBA Writer and Columnist for Basketball Insiders, covering the Pacific Division and NBA Social Media activity.

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