Teams are moving the ball more in the NBA nowadays, and hero ball isn’t the respected way of playing anymore. Still, we see enough 1-on-1 play to get excited over particular players, and that leaves us wondering who is truly the best 1-on-1 player in the world? After all, most of these guys can score with relative ease, but can they get it done in a professional tournament pitted against each other?
It is time to unveil the greatest 1-on-1 tournament in basketball history, by gathering the best 32 1-on-1 players in the league and leaving them to battle it out until there is only one winner.
16 players from each conference will be chosen and placed in a bracket similar to the NBA playoffs except only one game is played. The winner of each matchup progresses to the next round until the final two players are standing.
Both conferences have tremendous talent and almost every game will be very close, especially as the Final Round approaches. Still, this is a tournament that can provide upsets and you never know which player will find their hot streak.
Matchups are also key, and sometimes one player will fare better against another mainly due to style of play or particular skill set. But one thing is for certain, the player who comes out on top at the very end will truly be worthy of being named the best 1-on-1 player in the world.
Representing the East is the likes of Kevin Durant who feels nobody has a shot at coming close to him in this area. But guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kyrie Irving feel that they have enough skill to win it all themselves.
Not to be outdone, defensive stalwart Jimmy Butler will gladly place his name among the favorites to come out on top. Big men have not died yet either, as Joel Embiid has stated on multiple occasions that he is an unstoppable scorer and defensive player.
Let’s find out who is truly the king of the East. The full list of players is:
1. Kevin Durant
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
3. Kyrie Irving
4. Joel Embiid
5. Jimmy Butler
6. Bradley Beal
7. Ben Simmons
8. Trae Young
9. Zach LaVine
10. Pascal Siakam
11. Kemba Walker
12. Jayson Tatum
13. Khris Middleton
14. Kyle Lowry
15. Derrick Rose
16. Spence Dinwiddie
In the West; we will get to witness greatness in the forms of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden. Not to mention, guys like Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook feel they have a chance to beat anybody in a single game while Damian Lillard knows he is the best at making key baskets.
At the very least, we will witness some of the league’s best players go at it 1-on-1 to prove their skill set is at the peak of the West. Which one of these players will manage to win this ultra-competitive tournament? The list of players competing is:
1. LeBron James
2. Kawhi Leonard
3. James Harden
4. Stephen Curry
5. Anthony Davis
6. Damian Lillard
7. Russell Westbrook
8. Chris Paul
9. DeMar DeRozan
10. Paul George
11. Devin Booker
12. Brandon Ingram
13. Donovan Mitchell
14. Klay Thompson
15. C.J. McCollum
16. Carmelo Anthony
Eastern Conference First Round
(1) Kevin Durant vs. (16) Spencer Dinwiddie
This one won’t be much of a contest, no matter how talented Dinwiddie is. KD is just too tall, too long, and too skilled. He will shoot right over him every time and will manage to score the ball on almost every possession.
Dinwiddie will give it a good fight with some nice baskets, but KD wins this one to kick off the tournament.
Kevin Durant vs. Spencer Dinwiddie wins 21-11
(2) Giannis Antentokounmpo vs. (15) Derrick Rose
Rose is a heck of a scorer, but he is completely outmatched by the length of Giannis. Giannis will have his way around the rim and will use his improved strength to get to where he wants to go.
Rose will fight back with step-back jumpers and flip layups, but he won’t be able to stop Giannis from winning.
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Derrick Rose 21-10
(3) Kyrie Irving vs. (14) Kyle Lowry
This is a matchup featuring a high-octane scorer and a bulldog in Irving and Lowry respectively. Irving will put Lowry away with the score tied 15-15, and remind everyone why he is a former NBA Champion.
Lowry will show incredible hustle and heart, but will not be able to find the extra 6 points he needs to usurp Irving.
Kyrie Irving vs. Kyle Lowry 21-15
(4) Joel Embiid vs. (13) Khris Middleton
This is a pretty lopsided matchup, considering the size and girth of Embiid. He is simply too large for the slim-framed Middleton, who will not be able to handle him down low.
Embiid will show off a mix of post moves and also outside shooting to get the win. Middleton will shock most people with a string of three-point shots, but it won’t be enough.
Joel Embiid vs. Khris Middleton 21-14
(5) Jimmy Butler vs. (12) Jayson Tatum
This is a very competitive matchup, and Tatum will get the early lead. Seemingly close to victory, Butler will turn it on as Tatum approaches the score of 21 and begin to shut him down.
Butler will go on a 7-0 run to beat Tatum by only two points. This was one of the most exciting matchups in the First Round by far.
Jimmy Butler vs Jayson Tatum 21-19
(6) Bradley Beal vs. (11) Kemba Walker
This will be the highlight of the First Round, as both players will be hungry to progress to the Second Round. Beal and Walker can both shoot, create their own shot, and finish around the basket.
What will separate in the end is a Beals size, and a clutch jumper over Walker to complete the First Round.
Both players will hug it out much to the delight of the crowd, and Beal will advance in the next round to face Kyrie Irving.
Bradley Beal vs. Kemba Walker 22-20
(7) Ben Simmons vs. (10) Pascal Siakam
This is an interesting matchup since both players rely on their overall game to be effective in the NBA. But Siakam will come out on top, thanks to a higher quality of offensive skills.
Siakam is a better shooter than Simmons, and also has the ability to create his own shot when he needs to. Simmons will be able to score some baskets using his speed and size, but Siakam wins this one is quite convincing fashion.
Pascal Siakam vs. Ben Simmons 21-13
(8) Trae Young vs. (9) Zach LaVine
These two guys are athletic, quick, and very capable scorers. On paper, they are extremely even. But LaVine is a bigger man and will use his size to his advantage to outscore Young in the end.
Young might be the better scorer, but he will have tons of trouble defending LaVine who will use his vertical and quickness to get to the basket. LaVine edges Young here.
Zach LaVine vs. Trae Young 21-15
Western Conference First Round
(1) LeBron James vs. (16) Carmelo Anthony
This will be an entertaining matchup, but unfortunately, this is a Carmelo Anthony that is way past his prime and not the young superstar we knew and loved from Denver. If he was, he probably would have a chance at beating LeBron. But James is simply in phenomenal shape and still arguably the best player in the world.
Melo will hold his own still and remind us of his great scoring talent, but James will win in the end.
LeBron James vs. Carmelo Anthony 21-13
(2) Kawhi Leonard vs. (15) C.J. McCollum
C.J. will get out to a 5-0 lead to start the game, but Kawhi will clamp down on him on the defensive end. Leonard will be too big and too strong for McCollum, who will start missing jump shots as the game wears on.
On the other end, Leonard will use his body to back him down and score almost every time. He will close out with a step-back jumper to send him to the next round.
Kawhi Leonard vs. C.J. McCollum 21-10
(3) James Harden vs. (14) Klay Thompson
Klay will be tough to score against, but Harden will get the job here. His dribbling is simply too good, and he will always find a way to get to the rim. He will also fake out Klay a few times, and use his step-back jumpers to his advantage.
Klay will find his range at some point in the game but will cool off slightly giving Harden the opportunity to pull away.
James Harden vs. Klay Thompson 21-17
(4) Stephen Curry vs. (13) Donovan Mitchell
Mitchell is a rising young star and a very good two-way player, but Curry will simply catch fire from deep. His insane shooting will lead to a 6-0 run on the board, and giving him the victory even when Donovan starts heating up.
Mitchell holds his own and doesn’t back down, but Curry’s hot shooting at the start of the game gave him too much of a headstart for Mitchell to make a difference.
Stephen Curry vs. Donovan Mitchell 21-15
(5) Anthony Davis vs. (12) Brandon Ingram
AD vs Ingram might be a battle of length on paper, but Davis will win the battle of strength. He will be too big and strong for Ingram, who won’t be able to slow him down in the post. When Ingram forces AD to pick up his dribble, he will also drain a couple of jumpers right in Ingram’s face.
Ingram will show off some nice handles and also some very deep shooting, but AD progresses to the next round quite handily.
Anthony Davis vs. Brandon Ingram 21-14
(6) Damian Lillard vs. (11) Devin Booker
This will be a tight contest, mainly because of Booker’s firepower, but Lillard will not be able to be contained from the perimeter. He will find his rhythm from deep, and start draining multiple jump shots to give him an early advantage.
Lillard will lead 20-15 at one point, but Booker will fire back giving him hope to knock off Dame. Dame will finally roll in a tough layup to get the job done and proceed to the next round.
Damian Lillard vs. Devin Booker 21-18
(7) Russell Westbrook vs. (10) Paul George
While George will be a better shooter and more consistent defender in this matchup, Russ wills his way to the victory in this one.
His non-stop aggression in attacking the rim will give him crucial points on the board, and will also catch fire from the mid-range. Russ will come up with a few steals to strip George and will find his rhythm by pulling the game in his favor. But George will come to life an even capture a 19-17 lead at some point in the game.
However, Russ will not be denied and will score the final buckets to help him sneak past PG in the most competitive matchup so far.
Russell Westbrook vs. Paul George 21-19
(8) Chris Paul vs. (9) DeMar DeRozan
This matchup might shock some people since DeRozan is a bigger man who excels with his back to the basket. This will show early on, and DeRozan will reach an 18-13 lead at one point. But Paul will turn it on, hitting incredibly tough shots and not giving DeMar an inch of breathing room to secure the victory.
DeMar will be frustrated to lose this one, but Paul will prove why he is one of the game’s legends.
Chris Paul vs. DeMar DeRozan 21-19
Eastern Conference Second Round
(1) Kevin Durant vs. (9) Zach LaVine
LaVine will put up a very good fight but will fall short to KD (literally). KD will outscore LaVine as he will shoot right over him every time. LaVine will answer with some long-distance jumpers, but he won’t be able to stop KD from getting hot and scoring multiple baskets in a row.
KD breezes through to the Semifinals, with every player on alert that Durant is coming to win this tournament.
Kevin Durant vs. Zach LaVine 21-12
(2) Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. (10) Pascal Siakam
Both players are close to each other’s size, but Giannis is more skilled at attacking the basket and scoring the ball. Siakam will gain an early lead with four straight buckets, but Giannis will put him away thanks to his length and skill.
Giannis possesses stronger handles and will be able to find his way to the bucket to advance to the Semifinals.
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Pascal Siakam 21-13
(3) Kyrie Irving vs. (6) Bradley Beal
Irving and Beal will be a very exciting matchup and the highlight of the Second Round. Beal has a size advantage, while Irving has quickness and agility on his side. While Beal will match Irving’s long-distance shooting, Irving’s quickness in attacking the basket and stopping on a dime will give him a slight edge.
Irving is a slightly better scorer, and he will fake out Beal for multiple jumpers throughout the contest. A very good matchup, and a very good end of the Second Round. More importantly, a very impressive performance by a superstar scorer in Kyrie.
Kyrie Irving vs. Bradley Beal 21-17
(4) Joel Embiid vs. (5) Jimmy Butler
This will be a very feisty matchup since Embiid will use his size all game long against a Butler who feels he is 7-feet tall himself! What ultimately separates both players is Embiid’s skill set at his size. He will showcase turnaround jumpers, step-back jumpers, and a back to the basket game.
Butler will lose the final three possessions as Embiid progresses to the Semifinals. Butler will still prove to everybody why he is a dog that everyone wants on their team.
Joel Embiid vs. Jimmy Butler 21-18
Western Conference Second Round
(1) LeBron James vs. (8) Chris Paul
Chris Paul did admirably against a bigger opponent in DeMar DeRozan, but he would be no match for the size and girth of LeBron in this matchup. James will make relatively quick work of Paul, who will still manage to get some nice buckets including a tough contested fadeaway jumper.
James will find it easy to back him down and finish around the rim and will proceed to the Semifinals.
LeBron James vs. Chris Paul 21-10
(2) Kawhi Leonard vs. (7) Russell Westbrook
This is an interesting matchup, but once again Kawhi’s defense will be the difference. The Claw will clamp down on Westbrook’s drives to the rim, and Russell not be able to find his range from the perimeter in this one. Leonard will be as efficient as ever and will pick his spots for consecutive baskets. Westbrook will not back down and will keep the pressure on Kawhi on both ends of the floor.
Russ will gamble a few times and Leonard will make him pay. Kawhi progresses in a very impressive and composed performance against a ruthless Westbrook.
Kawhi Leonard vs. Russell Westbrook 21-17
(3) James Harden vs. (6) Damian Lillard
Lillard will get hot early and get an early lead, but James will take over by using his size and strength in the end. Lillard goes up 10-7, but Harden goes on a tear including two straight step-back threes to take the lead. From there, it will be all Harden.
Quick drives to the bucket give Harden a sizeable lead before Lillard gets hot from the perimeter. Lillard worries Harden for a brief stretch, but James Harden pulls through because he is simply a master at 1-on-1 play. But is he the very best?
James Harden vs. Damian Lillard 21-15
(4) Stephen Curry vs. (5) Anthony Davis
This is another complete mismatch, as Curry will aim to use his speed and quick trigger to hurt AD throughout the matchup. On the flip side, Davis will try to use his size to completely dominate Curry down low.
The difference will be whoever gets the first possession, and who can go on a run first. While this will be tight through most of the matchup, Davis will be quick enough to get to Curry’s shots and will find great success in backing him down in the paint.
Once Curry misses a few jumpers, AD will run riot around the rim to progress to the Semifinals to face his own teammate: LeBron James.
Anthony Davis vs. Stephen Curry 21-16
Eastern Conference Semifinals
(1) Kevin Durant vs. (4) Joel Embiid
This matchup could go either way in most people’s books. Embiid is simply a massive human being, and he is very skilled for his size. Embiid will find success backing KD down in the post and finishing around the rim or with a fadeaway jumper, but KD will respond by creating space all game long.
In the end, KD will prove to everyone why he is one of the scariest offensive players of all time by taking down the great Embiid. KD will also get important stops by using his length to block a key bucket and score the final two points for the win. Is there anybody who can stop Kevin Durant?
Kevin Durant vs. Joel Embiid 21-19
(2) Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. (3) Kyrie Irving
Irving will not back down from Giannis, who is simply not the scorer that Irving is in terms of creativity. But once again, Giannis is too long and too athletic to handle. He will make easy work of Irving as he approaches 21, and will use his size to get to where he wants.
Irving proved he belonged in the final four, but he is simply no match for a player at least 7 inches taller with extreme wingspan.
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Kyrie Irving 21-15
Western Conference Semifinals
(1) LeBron James vs. (5) Anthony Davis
Both players have tremendous size and skill, but only one player will ever have a chance of winning and that is LeBron James. Despite being shorter on paper, James is a stronger player who prefers to play with force rather than finesse. In a game of 1-on-1, this will work to his advantage.
James will manage to get to the rim on most occasions, but will still face heavy resistance from Davis. AD will block 3 layup attempts, letting LeBron know that he isn’t backing down by the legend. While this may be the case, LeBron will find his rhythm from the mid-range and hit back to back fadeaway jumpers to seal the victory over AD in a very competitive game.
LeBron James vs. Anthony Davis 21-16
(2) Kawhi Leonard vs. (3) James Harden
This game will be all offense, despite Leonard’s reputation for locking down players. You simply cannot stop James Harden, and he will go on a tear with this one. Harden will survive Leonard’s defensive resistance and will do what he does best by attacking the rim and creating his own step-back jumpers. Leonard will respond all game long with his own offense, mainly through his fadeaway jumper, but Harden will be too much in the end.
With only a single-player defending him, James will find it easy to attack the rim and make tough shots to proceed to the final round against LeBron James.
James Harden vs. Kawhi Leonard 21-18
Eastern Conference Finals
Kevin Durant vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo
In this epic final matchup, both players are hungry to prove that they deserve to be the best scorer and 1-on-1 player in the East. Finally, both players find their match in terms of size and length. Physically, they are even. But Durant’s complete offensive skillet will be the difference in the end, as he will put Giannis away with a string of jumpers as he nears his final score.
With Giannis leading 17-16, KD will turn it up a notch and simply prove that he is without a doubt the best offensive player in the East without any weakness in his game.
Kevin Durant vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo 21-17
Western Conference Finals
LeBron James vs. James Harden
This will be an incredible matchup. James is a player who relies on physicality and force, while Harden prefers to create his own shot and attack the rim at all times. What will make the difference is the player’s ability to handle the offensive pressure and come out with key stops when it matters most. LeBron James will manage to do that.
In a very long game, LeBron will have to endure Harden’s incredible offensive game and also hope he misses a few. With the score 20-18 in Harden’s favor, LeBron will take and make a very big three-point shot to survive and continue the game.
Harden will manage to miss a few jumpers, and LeBron will take complete advantage by scoring the last four points to seal the victory. His size and strength will come to his advantage, and Harden’s inability to defend consistently will harm him in this one. The King will prove that despite the ability of some of the NBA’s top superstars in the West, he will come out on top.
LeBron James vs. James Harden 31-29
NBA Championship Game
Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James
In the final epic matchup of this incredible tournament, the King of the East will play the King of the West.
We have seen KD and James battle it out in the NBA Finals where KD has always managed to come out on top thanks to his incredible teammates. But now, they are 1-on-1 to decide who is truly the most gifted scorer in the NBA.
KD and James will trade basket for basket, giving everyone no real indication on who will win this matchup. With KD leading 20-17, James will nail a deep three-pointer to survive yet again and push Durant to the limit.
In a battle of will and skill, KDs shooting will prove to be the biggest factor. His ability to hit contested jumpers after giving James slight hesitation moves ultimately gives KD the advantage and eventually the win.
By beating out the greatest player of the modern era, Durant proves he is the most lethal offensive weapon in the world with the game on the line.
Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James 29-27