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Stephen Curry vs. Kevin Durant Career Comparison: 4 NBA Championships Are Better Than 2

Stephen Curry vs. Kevin Durant Career Comparison: 4 NBA Championships Are Better Than 2

When Stephen Curry came out of high school, there was not much confidence surrounding his basketball career trajectory. Then, he led Davidson to an Elite 8 appearance and became a lottery pick. Now, he is a four-time champion and cemented his legacy as a top-10 player in this league with his first Finals MVP Award. In eight years, the Golden State Warriors have won four championships with Curry as a part of the core for each run. 

His former teammate in Kevin Durant was a part of two of those championship teams, which included winning back-to-back Finals MVP Awards. With Curry and Durant on the same team, it featured the last three MVP award winners. In both 2017 and 2018, the Warriors dominated the competition to keep the dynasty alive. 

If Curry is a top-10 player in the league, is there room for Durant in those top spots as well? Durant is a former MVP, four-time scoring champion, and one of the most efficient players in NBA history. How does Curry and Durant's career stack up with each other? 

Let’s take a look at the full comparison between Curry and Durant. 

NBA Championships

Stephen Curry: 4 (2015, 2017, 2018, 2022)

Finals Record: 4-2

Kevin Durant: 2 (2017, 2018)

Finals Record: 2-2

After the 2013-14 season, the Warriors opted to get rid of Mark Jackson as their head coach and hired Steve Kerr, who had no prior coaching experience. It ended up being one of the best moves in NBA history as the changes Kerr installed helped the Warriors go from a first-round playoff team to marching to the NBA Finals. The core of Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and even Andre Iguodala would become legends in Golden State. 

Realistically, the Warriors should probably have five championships. The team missed out on the title in 2016. The team set an NBA record for wins with 73 and held a 3-1 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. However, we know how that story goes as LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the rest of the team led the Cavaliers to a comeback to give Curry one of his two losses. 

After the record-setting season, Durant joined the Warriors and helped the team win titles in 2017 and 2018, which included winning Finals MVP in both of those seasons. Durant was as lethal as it got when it came to scoring. Having Durant and Curry on the floor at the same time was unstoppable to guard. The two helped the team make the NBA Finals in 2019 but were defeated by the Raptors. After that, Durant bolted to join the Brooklyn Nets. 

Since 2019, the two have embarked on similar endings. The following two seasons saw Curry battle with the loss of Thompson, who suffered an injury in the 2019 NBA Finals, while also suffering an injury of his own. Durant missed the entire following season and had an injury-riddled season in 2020-21. This year, both players and their squads appeared to be fully healthy. 

The result was two different endings. Curry and the Warriors core marched to the NBA Finals, where Curry earned his first Finals MVP. Meanwhile, Durant played with Kyrie Irving and James Harden throughout the season and the Nets nearly missed the playoffs and were then bounced out of the first round. At the time, Durant got a lot of praise for leading those championship teams in 2017 and 2018. With Curry getting a Finals MVP of his own, it begs the question of who was truly the best player on those squads. In the end, it’s Curry that owns six appearances in the NBA Finals compared to Durant’s four. 

Advantage: Stephen Curry

Finals MVP Awards

Stephen Curry: 1 (2022)

Kevin Durant: 2 (2017, 2018)

In 2015, Curry might have been robbed of winning a Finals MVP. Curry averaged 26.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. He also shot 44.3$ from the field, 38.5% from three-point range, and 88.5% from the free-throw line. He was the only player on the team that scored more than a total of 100 points. Instead, Andre Iguodala won Finals MVP for his efforts on offense, scoring 16.3 points per game, as well as his defense on LeBron James. 

For this Finals, there was no doubt who the winner would be. Curry averaged 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. He shot 48.2% from the field, 43.7% from three-point range, which included a game where he shot 0-9 from beyond the arc, and 85.7% from the free-throw line. 

As for Durant, he won the 2017 Finals MVP when he averaged 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. Durant shot 50-40-90 for the series. Curry averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 9.4 assists, which is a pretty solid stat line for someone that was the runner-up. 

In 2018, Durant shot 50-40-90 from the field, owning a stat line of 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 0.8 steals, and 2.3 blocks. Curry averaged a line of 27.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game. Durant scored just five points more than Curry, 115 to 110 points, for the series. Given how close these lines were, you could make a case that Curry should have won a Finals MVP Award sooner than this year. 

Advantage: Kevin Durant

NBA MVP Awards

Stephen Curry: 2 (2015, 2016)

Kevin Durant: 1 (2014)

Curry won the MVP right after Durant had won his fourth scoring title in his career. Curry won his first MVP Award with a line of 23.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 2.0 steals. He also shot 48.7% from the field and 44.3% from three-point range. The Warriors surged to 67 wins and the best record in the NBA, which also included a 39-2 mark at home. 

The following season, Curry became the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. The Warriors won a league record of 73 games. Curry averaged 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. He became a member of the exclusive 50-40-90 Club while leading the league in scoring and steals. 

As for Durant, he nearly led the Thunder back to the NBA Finals in 2014. He led the Thunder to the second-best record in the Western Conference with 59 wins. He averaged 32.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game. He did all of that while shooting 50.3% from the field and 39.1% from three-point range. 

If you look at the MVP seasons, the dealbreaker has to be that Curry not only won one more MVP Award than Durant but that he was a unanimous pick. We are not even talking just because Curry made the 50-40-90 club either because that is something Durant has done once in his career, which was in 2013. In the end, it was Curry that led his team to a record-setting season, while averaging close enough numbers to Durant in the process. 

Advantage: Stephen Curry

All-NBA Teams

Stephen Curry: 8 (4 First Team, 3 Second Team, 1 Third Team)

Kevin Durant: 10 (6 First Team, 4 Second Team)

Curry was named to the All-NBA Team each season from 2015 to 2019. He made the First Team in 2015, 2016, and 2019. Had Durant not come to the Warriors, he would have likely made the First Team every year during that stretch, but his touches decreased because of the addition of the superstar. Injuries kept Curry off the 2020 team, but last season Curry led the league in scoring to make his return to the All-NBA First Team. 

As for Durant, he made the First Team each season from 2010 to 2014, as well as in 2018 when Curry made the Third Team that same season. Durant made the Second Team in 2016, 2017, and 2019. Last year, he made his first appearance in three years by making the Second Team with the Nets. Durant missed all of the 2019-20 season and half of the 2020-21 season; otherwise, he would have likely made it 12 times to this point. 

Advantage: Kevin Durant

All-Star Selections

Stephen Curry: 8 All-Star Appearances, 1 All-Star Game MVP Award

Kevin Durant: 12 All-Star Appearances, 2 All-Star Game MVP Awards

After getting his footing in the league, Curry began to become a consistent member of the All-Star squad. It took Curry five years to make his first All-Star team, which was in 2014. He then made a six-year run of making it. If not for his hand injury in 2020, he would have had a streak that would have been consecutive up to the present. His one All-Star Game MVP came this season when he scored 50 points. 

Unlike Curry, after Durant’s fifth year, he was more than an All-Star, but an MVP of the game in 2012. In the game, Durant scored 36 points on 14 of 25 shooting. He won the MVP Award in 2019 with teammates Curry and Thompson in the game. Durant scored 31 points on 10 of 15 shooting to lead Team LeBron to a win. 

Advantage: Kevin Durant

All-Defensive Teams

Stephen Curry: 0

Kevin Durant: 0

Neither player has ever made an All-Defensive Team despite playing on some Warrior teams that were high in defensive efficiency. Curry led the league in steals in 2016 with 2.1 per game, but his supporting cast was a prime reason for that. The 2015-16 team had players like Thompson and Green that disrupted players, which allowed Curry to play the passing lanes and be ready for the steal. 

While that is a defensive skill in its own right, Durant might have the overall edge on defensive abilities. Durant owns 1,021 steals and 1,038 blocks in his career, which gives him a 1.1 average for both. Given that his best asset is scoring, owning a 27.2 points per game average, supplying a steal and a block nearly every game is not so bad. 

Advantage: None

Total Win Shares

Stephen Curry: 120.2 WS

Kevin Durant: 155.2 WS

Curry led the league in offensive win shares (13.8) and total win shares (17.9) during his unanimous MVP season. The year before that, he led the league in win shares per 48 minutes at .288. He also led the league in that category in 2016 with .318. Of his total 87.6 offensive win shares, Curry combined for 25.3 during his two MVP years. 

When Durant led the league in win shares, it was also during his MVP season. He led the league in offensive win shares with 14.8 and total win shares with 19.2. He also led the league in win shares per 48 minutes at .295. He led the league in that category a second time in 2016-17 at .278 while playing with Curry and the Warriors. 

Advantage: Kevin Durant

Career Player Efficiency Rating (PER)

Stephen Curry: 23.83

Kevin Durant: 25.26

Both Curry and Durant rank in the top 20 regarding career PER. The difference is that Durant is ranked in the top-10 at ninth in the league, while Curry is ranked 20th. In regards to offensive efficiency, Durant has Curry beat to a degree. He owns more career offensive win shares by over 20 and their usage rate on offense is just a two-percent advantage in favor of Durant. 

Curry might be the better overall shooter when comparing the two players, but Durant is more of a complete offensive player. Again, that is no shame being pointed at Curry because he is a two-time scoring champion in his own right. It’s just Durant is going to go down as one of the best scorers of all time because of his versatility. 

Advantage: Kevin Durant

Final Score

Kevin Durant vs. Stephen Curry 5-2

4 Championships Are Better Than 2

In the end, Durant is the more efficient player, which is evident by his advanced stats and his better PER. With that said, you cannot deny Curry’s legacy with the Warriors and how he accomplished everything he did with one team. That was confirmed when Curry won his fourth championship and won the Finals MVP Award. 

While Durant was a two-time Finals MVP, he joined a team that had won 73 games without him. That team was one game away from winning the 2016 title. There is a valid discussion that the Warriors might have not won the 2017 or 2018 Finals without Durant. With that said, Curry made it to the Finals twice before Durant joined the team. Not to mention, Durant left the Warriors. Once the team was fully healthy, they made it back, while Durant, who was on a Nets team favored to win the championship before the season started according to oddsmakers, was bounced in the first round. 

When we are looking at the top-10 players in the league, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Kobe Bryant are in the top five. Rounding out the top 10 features Bill Russell, Tim Duncan, Larry Bird, and Shaquille O’Neal. Claiming the final spot in the top 10 is Curry now that he won his fourth championship and his first Finals MVP.  

From 11 to 13, this is up in the air, but Durant just misses making the top 10. He is one championship away from getting back into that discussion. Behind Durant, it is Hakeem Olajuwon and Wilt Chamberlain. Altogether, these three players could be in either the 11th, 12th, or 13th positions. While Curry and Durant have similar stats and are close in overall awards, the one stat that pulls Curry away is that four championships are more than two.


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