LeBron James vs. Larry Bird vs. Kevin Durant vs. Julius Erving

Heading into Game 5 of the NBA Finals, here’s how 28-year-old Kevin Durant’s career statistics stack up against three of the top small forwards of all time:

Kevin Durant 

Overall Career

PPG: 27.2

RPG: 7.2

APG: 3.8

SPG: 1.2

BPG: 1.0

FT% 88.2%

FG% 48.8%

3PT% 37.9%

 

Advanced 

PER 25.2

eFG% 53.5%

TS% 60.8%

WS/48 .219

 

Career Playoffs 

(105 games)

PPG: 28.7

RPG: 8

APG: 3.8

SPG: 1.0

BPG: 1.2

FT% 85.2%

FG% 46.6%

3PT% 34.1%

Career Playoffs Advanced*

PER 24 (26.9 with GS this postseason)

eFG% 51.5%

TS% 58.5% (.669 with GS this postseason)

WS/48 .189 (but .275 with GS this postseason)

 

LeBron James

Overall Career 

PPG: 27.1

RPG: 7.3

APG: 7

SPG: 1.6

BPG: .8

FT% 74%

FG% 50.1%

3PT% 34.2%

 

Advanced 

PER 27.6

eFG% 53.6%

TS% 58.4%

WS/48 .239

 

Career Playoffs

(216 games)

PPG: 28.3

RPG: 8.8

APG: 6.9

SPG: 1.8

BPG: 1

FT% 74.3%

FG% 48.4%

3PT% 33%

Advanced Career Playoffs

PER 27.8

eFG% 52.1%

TS% 57.4%

WS/48 .241

 

Larry Bird 

Overall Career  

PPG: 24.3

RPG: 10

APG: 6.3

SPG: 1.7

BPG: .8

FT% 88.6%

FG% 49.6%

3PT% 37.6%

Advanced Career 

PER 23.5

eFG% 51.4%

TS% 56.4%

WS/48 .203

Career Playoffs 

(164 games)

PPG: 23.8

RPG: 10.3

APG: 6.5

SPG: 1.8

BPG: .9

FT% 89%

FG% 47.2%

3PT% 32.1%

Advanced Career Playoffs 

PER 21.4

eFG% 48.5%

TS% 55.1%

WS/48 .173

 

Julius Erving [includes first 5 seasons (through 1975-76) played in ABA]

Overall Career 

PPG: 24.2

RPG: 8.5

APG: 4.2

SPG: 2

BPG: 1.7

FT% 77.7%

FG% 50.6%

3PT% 29.8%

Advanced Career

PER 23.6

eFG% 50.9%

TS% 55.8%

WS/48 .192

Career Playoffs 

(189 games)

PPG: 24.2

RPG: 8.5

APG: 4.4

SPG: 1.7

BPG: 1.7

FT% 78.4%

FG% 49.6%

3PT% 22.4%

Advanced Career Playoffs 

PER 22.1

eFG% 49.9%

TS% 55.3%

WS/48 .176

While Durant’s time with the loaded Warriors this season has hurt his scoring average, the numbers show above his actual shooting efficiency has skyrocketed. He’s also averaging a career-high in rebounding (8.3 per game) and blocked shots (1.6) while averaging a career-low in turnovers (2.2) per game. And, of course, Kevin Durant is winning at a higher clip than ever before.

“He’s probably going to win a title this week and he’s inordinately happy [according to] everyone who knows him well” NBA analyst Kevin Arnovitz said on Slate’s Hang Up and Listen podcast. “He’s the happiest he’s ever been professionally. He’s a guy who’s one of the best in the world at his craft who hadn’t really had a choice where to work, which firm to work for and under which circumstances. I think we’re going to see more of this—until the league decides we’re not going to have a max salary under the cap structure, so if you want Durant you’re going to have to pay him $80 million out of the $110 million available under the cap, and you’re not going to have room for another guy like that.”

Arnovitz added: “It started with LeBron in 2010. Stars are realizing that their value is driving the league and they want their work situations to be of a certain kind. It wasn’t that Durant wanted to stack the deck,” Arnovitz said. Kevin Durant “wanted it to be an attractive market, he wanted to play with a certain temperament of guy and he found a place to work that he really likes.”

Footnotes:

  1. *All statistics according to baskeball-reference.com.

PER = Player Efficiency Rating.

eFG% = Effective Field Goal Percentage

TS% = True Shooting Percentage

WS/48 = Win Shares Per 48 Minutes

Definitions are here.

2. Down 3-1, the odds are stacked against Cleveland to win Game 5 on the road despite the fact that LeBron James’ significantly raises his game in do-or-die situations. Five Thirty Eight forecasts Golden State still has a 98% chance to win the series overall, and the Warriors are 6-point favorites at home for tonight’s NBA Finals game, according to basketball lines for major sportsbooks.