LeBron James and Kevin Durant are both often part of the best player debate, but it is safe to say they currently hinge in favor of the latter after his exploits in the 2021 NBA postseason. ESPN's popular basketball talk show 'First Take' host Stephen A. Smith feels the same way, and he was miffed when James took offense over Durant, getting the top spot in ESPN's best player poll -
"I can understand LeBron James being insulted about the Greek Freak. Comparisons to the Greak Freak. He has no business being insulted about Kevin Durant."
Smith continued, voicing his frustration -
"Kevin Durant is the best player in the world. Period. There is no NBA player, including LeBron James, at this point in time, that is a better player than Kevin Durant in the world!"
Both Kevin Durant and LeBron James' teams are positioned brilliantly for a championship run
Kevin Durant is coming off a successful 2020 Tokyo Olympics campaign with Team USA, which won the elusive gold medal by defeating France in the finals. It was preceded by a brilliant playoff run, which was brought to an end by the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Kevin Durant was inches away from leading his team to the Conference finals, which would have been a commendable achievement considering the circumstances. The Nets missed both James Harden and Kyrie Irving due to injuries for a considerable part of the series, and Durant ended up averaging 34 points and 9 rebounds per game and even played 48 minutes in a pivotal Game 5.
LeBron James' LA Lakers bowed out of the first round of the playoffs, losing to eventual finalists the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers were undermanned as Anthony Davis was not available for a major chunk of the series.
However, the LA Lakers have had a strong offseason, adding 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook to the mix. They are prime candidates for the 2021/22 NBA championship and are second only to Kevin Durant's Brooklyn Nets in the betting charts.
The Brooklyn Nets have made moves of their own, tying down key free agents like Blake Griffin and Bruce Brown to 1-year contracts. They also acquired Patty Mills, who is expected to contribute important minutes off the bench.
Both the LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have a stacked roster, and fans can expect a showdown between LeBron James and Kevin Durant in the NBA finals. Maybe that's when the debate of 'Who the best player in the world in the NBA is' will be settled.