When he first made it to the league, everybody made fun of the Milwaukee Bucks for taking Giannis Antetokounmpo so high in the Draft, stating he was a couple of years away from being NBA ready.
Ever since, the Greek Freak has made great strides and has constantly improved on every single aspect of his game, up to the point where he’s one of the frontrunners to take home the MVP award and one of the best players in the world.
However, some fans are still reluctant to consider him a superstar, calling him a poor man’s Kevin Durant. But, if you had to pick one of them, who would you rather have? Who’s a better player? Let’s break it down.
Inside Scoring - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Kevin Durant is a prolific scorer from all three levels, but Giannis Antetokounmpo is as dominant in the paint as the most gifted big men ever. Some guys are even comparing him to a modern-day Shaq because of how easily he does whatever he wants below the rim. He’s a hell of a finisher and a career 55% scorer from 2 (64% this season).
Outside Scoring - Kevin Durant
One of Giannis’ few flaws is his - lack of - a three-point shot, something he’s slowly, yet steadily working to improve. Durant, on the other hand, is as smooth as silk from beyond the arc despite being a 7 footer. Giannis shoots 27% from three per his career compared to Durant’s 38%, and his career high for made threes is 4 compared to Durant’s 7.
Playmaking - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Truth to be told, they’re both incredible playmakers for their position. Still, Giannis is making strides as a ball handler lately and has been in charge of running his team’s offense more often than Durant. While both of them average 4.1 dimes per game, Giannis is handing out 6.0 dishes a night this year compared to Durant’s 5.7. Notably, they both share a career high of 14 assists.
Athleticism - Giannis Antetokounmpo
While Durant is a way more athletic player people credit him for, Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the 5 most athletic people I’ve ever seen, even outside of basketball. We’re talking about a guy that needs just 4 steps to get from half court to the rim. He takes off from beyond the free throw line to dunk and knows how to make the most of his long extremities to put everybody on a poster.
Defense - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Well, Kevin Durant has vastly improved as a defender since joining the Golden State Warriors, but actually, Giannis has a bigger defensive impact than him already. Durant has just 2.5 defensive win shares this season with a defensive plus-minus of -0.1 and averages 1.1 steals per his career. Giannis, on the other hand, has a league-leading 5.3 defensive win shares, a league-leading 5-2 defensive plus-minus, and averages 1.2 steals per game.
Rim Protection - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Once again, Giannis Antetokounmpo slightly gets the nod in this regard, even though Durant has also vastly improved as a shot blocker. While Durant averages 1.1 blocks per game, Giannis’ career average is 1.5. Notably, they’re tied at 7 when it comes to career highs for blocks in a game.
Rebounding - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging more rebounds per game than the average starting big man in the league. While Kevin Durant’s career average of 7.1 boards per game is great for a forward, Giannis averages 8.2 per game and 12.6 this season. Moreover, Durant’s career high for boards is 18, while Giannis has already snatched 21 rebounds once.
Clutch - Kevin Durant
While Giannis Antetokounmpo hasn’t been afraid to take a big shot and handle things his own ways in crunch time, his lack of a jump shot has made him struggle late in games with defense collapsing the paint. Durant, on the other hand, keeps getting better and better in the clutch. He’s made some huge shots along the way, even though people call him a choker.
Leadership - Kevin Durant
While you may argue Durant was not the true leader when he was at Oklahoma and that the Warriors are Stephen Curry’s team, he played a major role in their last two Championships. He’s won back-to-back Finals MVPs and has learned when to step aside and give up shots to make the team better. Giannis has proven to be a great young leader so far, but he’s yet to have any kind of playoff success.
Basketball IQ - Kevin Durant
Giannis Antetokounmpo has grown through his mistakes, but he’s still has a lot to learn. He often tends to settle for the bully ball and force things in the offense, while Durant is one of the smartest guys you’ll find on an NBA hardwood. He’s a great facilitator, helps spread the floor, is great at switching on defense and knows how to do a little bit of everything.
Better Scorer - Kevin Durant
Well, Giannis Antetokounmpo is already a prolific and dominant scorer and his offensive numbers keep trending up on a yearly basis, but Durant is one of the greatest scorers ever. He averages 27.1 points per his career, while Giannis has only averaged 27.2 for a season. Also, Durant has already won 4 scoring titles and he would’ve been in the mix for a couple more if it wasn’t for the fact that he shares the floor with Stephen Curry.
Impact - Kevin Durant
Even though Giannis makes a bigger impact as a stopper, Kevin Durant has a slightly bigger impact in the court than him. Durant is virtually unguardable. Double him? He finds the open guy. Collapse the paint to stop him from driving? He pulls up from three. He’s got so many different ways to hurt defenses that there’s no true way to contain him.
1 on 1 Game - Kevin Durant
I would pay thousands of dollars to watch these two go at it 1 on 1. Both of them are long and pesky defenders, both of them are hard-nosed competitors, both of them are guards trapped in a big man’s body, and both of them can score in bunches. Even so, we give Durant the nod here because of his experience and most importantly, his ability to shoot lights out from deep.