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LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant Career-Highs Comparison

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LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant Career-Highs Comparison

LeBron James and Kevin Durant are two of the greatest players of this generation. They have each made their mark on NBA history by perfecting their craft. They have each inspired a new generation to pick up a basketball and begin their journey. One is considered one of the best all-around players to ever play the game, while the other is considered one of the greatest scorers. They have each had their own unique path to get where they are now, and it has been a privilege to be a part of it.

The difference in accolades and achievements makes this matchup a bit one-sided. Durant is a 2x champion, a 2x Finals MVP, a 1x MVP, a 12x All-Star, and a 4x scoring champ. LeBron James, on the other hand, is a 4x champion, 4x Finals MVP, 4x MVP, 18x All-Star, and a 1x scoring champ. LeBron has been the poster boy for consistency and longevity, while Durant has endured some obstacles along the way. You may look at this matchup and say, “What’s the point? These guys aren’t even close.” While that may be true in terms of legacy at the moment, throw all of that out the window for a few minutes and let us compare them in a different, unique way.

This is LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant being compared simply by their career-highs in a single game.


Points

LeBron James - 61 Points (Heat vs. Bobcats, March 3, 2014)

Kevin Durant - 55 Points (Nets vs. Hawks, April 2, 2022)

It feels a bit hard to believe that LeBron James’ career-high points in a game occurred a little over 8 years ago already. He was still a member of the Big 3 down in Miami with the Heat, and it seems like he has had an entire career since then. On this night, the Heat were without Dwyane Wade and were matched up against a Bobcats team that had just 27 wins through 60 games. 

LeBron took control from the outset on his way to a historic night. He shot 22-33 from the field overall and 8-10 from three-point land as the Heat blew out Charlotte 124-107. James also added 7 rebounds and 4 assists and went 9-12 from the foul line.

For Durant, his career-high 55 points came just 4 months ago in 2022, which is hard to believe in itself. His big night came in a road contest against a formidable opponent in the Atlanta Hawks. 

Durant was 19-28 from the field overall on this night and 8-10 from three. He added 7 rebounds and 3 assists, but the Nets failed to take down Atlanta and lost 122-115. This is probably because Durant and Kyrie Irving combined for 86 points, and the rest of the team combined for 26. Meanwhile, Trae Young added 36 points and 10 assists and got a lot more support from his team to get the win.

Advantage: LeBron James


Rebounds

LeBron James - 19 Rebounds (Cavaliers vs. Bobcats, January 11, 2008)

Kevin Durant - 18 Rebounds (Thunder vs. Timberwolves, January 26, 2011)

LeBron James loved to play the Bobcats. In his first stint with Cleveland back in 2008, LeBron again torched Charlotte for his career-high in rebounds. The game was a tightly fought contest as the Cavs emerged victorious in double-overtime, 113-106. James went for 31 points, 19 rebounds, and 8 assists in the win as he shot 10-20 from the field and played 50 minutes. His team had a balanced attack that proved vital to victory as Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao, and Daniel Gibson all scored in double-digits.

Durant also found himself in a tight game for his career-high in rebounds. The Thunder were on the road to play the 10-35 Minnesota Timberwolves. The game ended up being closer than Oklahoma City would have liked, but they still prevailed 118-117 in overtime. 

Durant went for 47 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in the win. He shot 15-28 from the field and 13-14 from the foul line. What was the reason that this game was so close? Probably because Michael Beasley and Kevin Love combined for 60 points and 30 rebounds, with Love having a historical 31-point and 21-rebound night. Durant also played 50 minutes in the victory.

Advantage: LeBron James


Assists

LeBron James - 19 Assists (Cavaliers vs. Hawks, February 9, 2018), (Lakers vs. Magic, January 15, 2020)

Kevin Durant - 16 Assists (Nets vs. Pacers, April 10, 2022)

As one of the best playmakers in league history, there is no surprise that LeBron James takes this category as well. The first time he reached his career-high in assists was in his second stint in Cleveland in 2018. LeBron recorded a triple-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 19 assists in a 123-107 blowout of the Atlanta Hawks. 

The next time he accomplished this feat was in a 119-118 loss to the Orlando Magic as a member of the 2020 Lakers. LeBron recorded 19 points and 19 assists on this night, but the Lakers fell that night. They certainly got the last laugh as they went on to win the NBA Finals later that year.

Kevin Durant’s career-high assists are yet another accomplishment he achieved in the 2021-22 season. This night was the only night that Durant ever recorded over 15 assists in a game. 

Durant’s playmaking abilities have become underrated over time, and in this contest, he showed why. Durant recorded a triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 16 assists in a 134-126 win over the Pacers. Durant’s teammate Kyrie Irving added 35 points and 7 assists of his own in the win.

Advantage: LeBron James


Steals

LeBron James - 7 Steals (Cavaliers vs. Grizzlies, December 13, 2004)

Kevin Durant - 5 Steals (Thunder vs. Mavericks, December 13, 2008), (Thunder vs. Mavericks, April 3, 2010), (Thunder vs. Clippers, November 21, 2012), (Thunder vs. Nuggets, January 16, 2013)

We have always known that LeBron James is a versatile and more than an effective defender. He has recorded 5 steals or more in a game over 25 times and over 6 steals in a game 10 times. The night he recorded his career-high in steals, LeBron was still just a young man in his second season with the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers took down a Grizzlies squad that was 9-13 at the time by a score of 92-86. LeBron recorded 31 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, and 7 steals in the win.

Kevin Durant has never been known for his defense. As opposed to LeBron, Durant has only recorded 5 steals or more in a game 4 times. The first two times he did it were in games against the Dallas Mavericks, and the Thunder split those games with 1 win and 1 loss. The last time he recorded 5 steals in a game was back in 2013 in a 20-point blowout win over the Denver Nuggets. In that game, Durant recorded 20 points, 4 assists, and 5 steals in just 29 minutes of play as the Thunder won 117-97.

Advantage: LeBron James


Blocks

LeBron James - 5 Blocks (Cavaliers vs. Hornets, February 23, 2004), (Cavaliers vs. Bulls, March 16, 2004)

Kevin Durant - 7 Blocks (Warriors vs. Pelicans, October 20, 2017), (Warriors vs. Kings, February 21, 2019)

LeBron James last recorded 5 blocks in a game during his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s kind of ironic since the most iconic moment in his career is a chase-down block in the NBA Finals some 12 years later. James recorded 5 blocks in games separated by just 3 weeks, and both ended in victory for the Cavs. In a February 2004 matchup with the Hornets, LeBron swatted 5 shots in a 104-100 victory. Three weeks later, James recorded 5 blocks again in a 30-point blowout win over the Chicago Bulls.

This is the first category in which Kevin Durant takes an advantage over LeBron. Both of the games in which Durant recorded his career-high blocks in a game came while he was a member of the Golden State Warriors. 

In both games that Durant accomplished this in, the Warriors emerged victorious. In October 2017, Durant recorded 7 blocks in a 128-120 win over the Pelicans. He would do it again in his final season with the Warriors in a February matchup with the Kings that the Warriors squeaked out 125-123.

Advantage: Kevin Durant


3-Pointers Made

LeBron James - 8 3-Pointers Made (Cavaliers vs. Bucks, February 20, 2009), (Heat vs. Bobcats, March 3, 2014), (Lakers vs. Grizzlies, December 29, 2021)

Kevin Durant - 8 3-Pointers Made (Nets vs. Hawks, April 2, 2022)

LeBron James is a career 34.6% three-point shooter. When we think of his greatest moments, they are usually ones where he is finishing at the rim where he dominates or some sort of other athletically gifted play. 

What makes LeBron’s career-high in threes made so unique is that he has done it in each team’s uniform that he has worn in his career. In 2009 with the Cavaliers, LeBron knocked down 8 threes in a win over the Bucks. With the Heat, he knocked down 8-10 threes in his career-high 61-point game. Most recently, he hit 8 threes as a Laker against the Grizzlies in a 104-99 loss.

As for Durant, he is a career 38.4% shooter from beyond the arc. Much more known than James for his ability to knock down jumpers, Durant only reached 8 threes in a single game this past year with the Nets. 

The night he scored his career-high 55 points, Durant shot 8-10 from three in a game that went down as a loss for Brooklyn. Durant has knocked down 6 or more threes in a game 17 times in his career, and LeBron has done that 28 times in his career.

Advantage: Even


Field Goals Made

LeBron James - 23 Field Goals Made (Cavaliers vs. Wizards, November 3, 2017)

Kevin Durant - 19 Field Goals Made (Thunder vs. Nuggets, February 19, 2012), (Thunder vs. Warriors, January 17, 2014), (Nets vs. Knicks, March 13, 2022), (Nets vs. Hawks, April 2, 2022)

Back in 2017 and during his second time around with the Cleveland Cavaliers is when LeBron James recorded his career-high in field goals made. On this night, the Cavs were taking on the Washington Wizards during the first week of the 2017-18 season. LeBron James played 43 minutes and shot 23-34 from the field, only attempting 4 threes in a 130-122 win. LeBron also knocked down all 9 free throw attempts on the night, and the Cavs took home the W despite a 36-point night from Bradley Beal. James finished with 57 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.

As for Durant, He reached his career-high 19 field goals made 4 times for 2 different teams. While he was with the Thunder, He knocked down 19 shots in a pair of wins over the Nuggets and Warriors in 2012 and 2014. The next time he would match those efforts was this past season with the Nets. On March 13th, he went 19-37 from the field for 53 points in a 110-107 win over the Knicks. He would do it again in April against the Hawks, the night he dropped his career-high 55 points.

Advantage: LeBron James


Free Throws Made

LeBron James - 24 Free Throws Made (Cavaliers vs. Heat, March 12, 2006)

Kevin Durant - 24 Free Throws Made (Thunder vs. Clippers, January 23, 2009)

To find the games in which LeBron James and Kevin Durant both knocked down their career-highs in free throws, you’ll have to go back to their time with the first team they played for in their careers. The time that LeBron knocked down his 24 free throws was back in his 3rd season with the Cavaliers. They were defeated 98-92 on the road against the Miami Heat. Despite the loss, LeBron shot 24-28 from the foul line for 47 points. He had been struggling from the field, going 11-27 shooting, and it seemed the only way he could get his team going was by forcing himself to the free throw line. A 35-point effort from Dwyane Wade thwarted LeBron’s efforts.

Coincidentally, Kevin Durant’s career-high night in free throws made also came in a loss. It was back in 2009 while Durant was still with the Thunder in a matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers. Durant was also struggling from the field, going 10-23 on the night. He got himself to the foul line frequently to try and get his team the win with a 24-26 effort from the stripe. Al Thornton and Eric Gordon combined for 75 points to spoil Durant’s 46-point game.

Advantage: Even


Turnovers

LeBron James - 11 Turnovers (Cavaliers vs. Pacers, January 26, 2018)

Kevin Durant - 11 Turnovers (Thunder vs. Spurs, January 22, 2014)

LeBron James is the all-time career leader in total turnovers. His 4,788 turnovers are currently ahead of 2nd place by 364 turnovers. When you handle the ball and command an offense the way LeBron has done during his career, a high number of turnovers is bound to happen. James’ career-high turnovers in a game came in 2018 during his second go-around with the Cavaliers. LeBron committed 11 turnovers but made up for it with his 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. His high turnover rate didn’t stop his team from picking up the win over Indiana 115-108.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant ranks 32 spots behind LeBron James on the all-time turnovers list. His 2,964 career turnovers have him 1,824 behind James for their careers. Durant’s 11 turnovers came back in 2014 when he was still with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In a matchup with the Spurs, Durant dueled with point guard Tony Parker. Durant scored 36 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in the 111-105 win. Parker went off for 37 points in the loss. Just like James, Durant’s 11 turnover night didn’t prevent his team from taking home the victory.

Advantage: Even


New Comparison, Same Results

The biggest takeaway you can have from this article is that no matter how you slice it, LeBron James is a superior basketball player to Kevin Durant. There is nothing wrong with that because not many players can say they have had a better career than The King. Durant is still considered one of the greatest offensive weapons to ever play the game. His height and length, combined with his skill, make him one of the toughest matchups an opponent can have. At 7 feet tall, his shooting ability is god-like, with his ability to rise above defenders and knock down shots at a high clip. His ball-handling skills make him that much more deadly as well. Having a lesser career than one of the greatest ever to live is nothing to hang your head for.

LeBron is an all-time talent. He is one of the greatest playmakers to ever play, and his ability to get the best out of his teammates is virtually unmatched. He steps up big in crucial moments and takes matters into his own hands when his team needs him to. Whether you consider LeBron to be the greatest of all time or not is up to you but what you can’t do is deny how special he has been for all of his 19 years in the NBA. You can’t deny the abilities of either of these superstars as all-time talents who have made our experience as fans much better than if we hadn’t witnessed them play. 

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