Stephen Curry is widely considered the greatest point guard in the game right now, and the player is mainly responsible for changing the game with his style of play. His unparalleled shooting and skills have made Curry the most terrifying guard to play against at the moment. The superstar point guard is clearly the MVP favorite this season as he builds his incredible resume. His career is already enough to give him Hall of Fame honors, as he managed to capture 2 MVPs and 3 championships as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
Similarly, Kevin Durant changed the game as a 6’10” forward with offensive skills inside and outside the paint. The swingman might be the most unstoppable scorer of his era because he combines his length and shooting ability with unbelievable handles. Durant is a 4-time scoring champion and a top-3 small forward of all time behind LeBron James and Larry Bird. No defender in any era could stop Durant from scoring the ball, which is why his talent transcends the game.
But when comparing Durant with Curry, who has the edge as a better overall player? Both players were teammates for 3 years as they made 3 NBA Finals and won 2 championships together. Kevin Durant won both Finals MVPs, but Curry is the one with 3 championships to Durant’s 2. It is time to compare both superstar players to come up with the final conclusion as to which player is higher in the all-time rankings.
Scoring - Kevin Durant
Durant is a beast at attacking the rim and finishing inside. He uses his incredible handles to beat his defender to the rim for the finish, and usually with and-1. But Durant is one of the game's greatest offensive perimeter players, who can create his own shots and drain tough contested shots in the face of helpless defenders.
Curry is the best shooter in NBA history, averaging 47.7% from the field and 43.3% from the three-point line. The point guard is nailing 90.8% from the free-throw line over his career as well, making him a special marksman with unbelievable accuracy. No player ever, including Durant, can come close to Curry’s accuracy as a marksman from everywhere on the floor.
But Curry is 6’2”, meaning he can be put off by bigger players with length and height albeit slightly. Durant does not have that problem and can score against any defender in any era. Overall, Durant slightly edges Curry because his 4 scoring titles and complete game as a scorer are undeniably great. Steph might be the best shooter ever, but he cannot beat out a 6’10” forward who can score from anywhere although he comes close.
Athleticism - Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is listed at 6'10" tall and weighs 240 lbs. Always a slim player, he never had a strength advantage over opponents other than his height. Kevin Durant is a terrific athlete and his height gives him an advantage as a shooter, and he is extremely explosive when he attacks the rim. With just a few steps, Durant can get to the rim from outside the arc and is adept at moving his feet on defense too. A player of Durant’s size gives him an advantage every night, other than strength when he has unbelievable guard-like skills.
Stephen Curry is a bit underrated in terms of his athleticism. He has a slight frame and cannot leap like a prime Derrick Rose or Russel Westbrook, but he has decent height at 6'2” and is very quick with the ball. Off the ball, he is very effective coming off screens and seems to lose guys on defense. Curry’s quickness and shiftiness as a player give him solid points on athleticism, but there is no way he can compete with a 6’10” freak of nature like Kevin Durant.
Defense - Kevin Durant
As great as Kevin Durant is on offense, he can be almost as valuable as a defensive player when he zones in. Durant has the speed and athleticism to guard smaller defenders, although he struggles with bigger players due to physical weakness. Durant is much bigger and stronger than when he first came into the league, but he will never be a powerhouse player which means he is limited to defending 3 positions and sometimes 4 when opposing teams employ smaller lineups.
On the other hand, Curry is 6'2" with a career average of 1.7 SPG and 0.2 BPG. Other than playing passing lanes and coming up with steals thanks to quick hands, Stephen Curry is nowhere near being a defensive stopper. Curry has been in positions when quicker and stronger guards take advantage of him, and there isn’t much that the Golden State Warriors star can do in those situations. Kyrie Irving’s game-winner over Steph in the 2016 NBA Finals is an example of that.
In terms of defense, Durant has to take the edge. The forward is averaging 1.1 SPG and 1.1 BPG for his career and edges out Curry thanks to incredible height and athleticism on the defensive end of the floor.
Clutch - Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant has come up in the clutch many times before. Durant's ability to knock down shots from anywhere on the court means he is unstoppable on offense and can deliver in any clutch situation. Whether in the regular season or the playoffs, Durant is consistently one of the top-ranked clutch players of all time. Durant has proved he can be a big-time shot-maker when needed most as evidenced by his 2 Finals MVP Awards. Even if Durant played alongside some future Hall of Fame scorers such as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, it was the forward who made the big shots in back-to-back NBA Finals.
On the other side, Curry has shown on multiple occasions that he is not as clutch as Kevin Durant. Curry can dominate a game and seemingly flame out in critical moments because someone of his incredible talent and skill is expected to always deliver in the clutch. His famous game-winner over the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 was incredible, but he lacks moments that compare to what Durant has in his resume. Curry is criticized for not winning a single Finals MVP award and also playing below his level during the playoffs, which is enough of a disadvantage to give the nod to Durant. The former Oklahoma City man is one of the most dominant players in the clutch, and other than Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, most will give the ball to Durant in do-or-die situations among every other player.
Leadership - Stephen Curry
This is an interesting category because both players have faced criticism at times over their leadership traits. But based on what we have seen from their careers, Stephen Curry has to be the better leader. The reason is simple: unselfishness. Curry has allowed everyone around him to prosper and has made every teammate better. Steph is an unstoppable offensive player and always welcomed other stars to play with him. Rather than taking the spotlight as most other superstars do, Curry shared the wealth and benefitted in the end by winning titles.
Durant has always been known as a terrific talent but lacks the aggressiveness to put his teammates in place when it was needed. For years in Oklahoma City, Durant had to endure Russell Westbrook taking more shots than him and being the “alpha” of the team. While pundits screamed for Durant to take over, he often deferred. Most importantly, Durant had to join Stephen Curry’s team to gain postseason success and that meant he could not do it on his own team.
Basketball I.Q. - Stephen Curry
Both players have high basketball I.Q. because they have been the best players on their teams throughout their careers.
The fact that Durant can lead to a bucket on every possession, either by scoring or assisting, is a testament to his supremely high basketball I.Q. He is a gifted passer, an incredible scorer, and an entire offensive system on his own. Along with his current teammate James Harden, Durant is one of the most dominant all-around scorers in the league today.
But when it comes to basketball I.Q., Stephen Curry is slightly above Durant. Curry seemed born with an incredible understanding of how to play the game, and he is a true student of the game. Whether it is ball-handling, shooting, or passing; Curry has every aspect of being a point guard down to a science. The point guard is a gifted scorer, but he has also shown the ability to make the right plays at the right moments to help his team win games.
Both players have an argument for being better in basketball IQ, but Curry has to take the edge in this category. Durant seems to be unsure when to be ultra-aggressive, something that Steph never has to worry about.
Impact - Even
In terms of impact, it is too hard to judge between Curry and Durant. Steph is an amazing shooter and can take over games with his three-point shooting. We have seen countless times where Steph wins games on his own because a couple of three-point makes places his team in an incredible position to go on a run that destroys opponents in minutes. Steph has to be picked up as soon as he steps in front of half-court because it could be game over if he has space to shoot.
Meanwhile, Durant is simply unstoppable from anywhere on the court. He cannot shoot as well as Curry, as no one can, but he is a better scorer when he attacks the rim and also gets hot from mid-range. Kevin has the height to shoot over defenders and also be a nuisance on defense, making him one of the top-three small forwards ever. But because Curry changed the NBA game forever, this one has to be even.
1 on 1 Game - Even
Yet again, this is a difficult one to analyze. Steph cannot be defended by one player on most occasions because he only needs a little space to get his three-point shots off, and is adept at getting to the rim as well. Even if Curry needs help on defense, he is adept at reading plays to give his team another advantage on the fast-break.
Durant is unstoppable no matter who is defending him. As most opposing coaches always say, the only way to stop Durant is to hope that he misses. He is close to 7 feet tall and has a high-arcing shot, meaning no defender has a chance to truly contest him. Using a bit of physical force can throw him off at times, but there is not much anyone can do when Durant is rolling. On offense, both Curry and Durant are special scorers and this means it is too close to call.
Career - Even
Kevin Durant has 2 championships, 2 Finals MVPs, 1 MVP award, 4 scoring titles, and a total of 11 All-Star appearances and 9 All-NBA teams. Durant has been in the NBA two years longer, has dominated with 2 franchises, and could very well win another ring over the next few years with Brooklyn. While there have been some hiccups along the way, Durant’s accolades as an individual have been incredible. As a scorer who was consistently one of the top-5 players in the game, Kevin’s resume as a top-15 player ever is set.
Meanwhile, Stephen Curry is known for changing the game and like players who did it before him, his legacy is also set. Many claim that Curry is behind Magic Johnson as the best point guard ever, while others have him in the top-5 in his position. Either way, Stephen Curry is a legendary basketball player and 3 NBA titles came as a result of his marksmanship. Curry does not have the scoring titles that Durant has, but has an extra MVP and has been the face of the league for a few years so far. As a result, both stars have Hall of Fame careers and this one should be called even.
Stephen Curry vs. Kevin Durant 2-4
In the end, Kevin Durant edges Stephen Curry as the better player. The superstar small forward is legendary as a scorer, and his size and athleticism make him a better all-around player than Curry. Steph is a better shooter and has the case for helping Durant win his only championships, but he cannot influence the court in other areas like Kevin does. That does not take away from Steph’s greatness, because the point guard is the MVP favorite right now and a 3rd MVP Award could take his legacy to another level. But as things stand, Kevin Durant is the better overall player because 6’10” with guard skills is something that cannot be compared to.