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NBA / Feb 26, 2009 / 9:00 am

Who’s Better: Kevin Durant or Danny Granger?

We argue. You decide…

KEVIN DURANT (by Andrew Katz)
He’s 6-10 and was put on Earth to shoot jumpers. Is there a better combination than that?

People say that LeBron James is the toughest guy to guard in the League right now, and I’d probably agree with that. But within a couple of years, I honestly think it’s going to be Kevin Durant. First of all, he’s still as physically mature as a cub. There’s something awkward about KD when he’s walking in the street — he’s still 2-3 years away from being as fully coordinated as he will become.

So what will happen when he becomes a touch more explosive, a bit more fluid, and most importantly, more confident going to the basket? Pair that with his already automatic jumper, and what do you have? At Danny Granger‘s age (25), KD will be the next Kobe Bryant.

Kevin DurantKevin Durant on Dime #32

Durant’s already given us a glimpse into his future — and to be honest, I’m giddy about it. He’s improved in every way imaginable in less than two full years in the NBA. He averaged 20.3 points as a rookie — when he won Rookie of the Year — on 43% shooting from the field and 28.8% shooting from three. Now, he’s up at 26.3 points per night (fourth in the League) on 48.6% shooting from the field and 43.6% shooting from three. You’ve got to imagine that his jump in three-point shooting is a function of getting used to the deeper line, as he’s always had the range.

At 6-9/6-10, there isn’t anyone in the League who can really guard him on the perimeter and really prevent him from being able to lock eyes on his target. And as a shoot-first, drive-second type of player, Durant has learned how to move very well without the ball. Earlier this season, when P.J. Carlesimo was still at the helm in OKC, Durant waited at the top of the key to get the ball before attacking his man. Now, he’s running the baseline (like a gazelle), occasionally posting up smaller defenders, and catching the ball ready to shoot. That ability makes it exponentially harder to stop KD from letting his quick-trigger J rip from anywhere inside of 27 feet.

At this stage in his career, Durant is a much better shooter than any of his superstar predecessors. I’d venture to say that he’s a better shooter than Danny Granger, too. KD’s percentages are slightly higher — which isn’t really statistically significant — but he hits at a super-efficient rate even though everyone in the gym knows that he’s the guy wearing the ugly Thunder jersey who is going to shoot. At least Granger has Troy Murphy and Marquis Daniels to draw some attention away from him. Don’t kid yourself and pretend like Jeff Green is drawing any attention away from Durant. He’s not.

Imagine what happens when Durant is playing on the same team with a real post player who gets him some more open looks. That is terrifying.

*** *** *** ***

DANNY GRANGER (by Austin Burton)
How do you want your buckets?

Adhering to the predatory snake analogy set forth by the NBA’s most vicious scorer, if you look at Kevin Durant as a cobra — sleek, rangy, quick-striking, fascinating yet socially reclusive (and, FYI, can kill five times faster than a mamba) — Danny Granger would be more like a boa constrictor.

Danny GrangerSenor Buckets (photo. Stephen Hill)

Over the course of a game, Granger doesn’t enthrall you with how he puts the ball in the rim. He’s not as highlight-friendly or “sexy,” as Rick Kamla might say. Granger’s process is slower, more methodical. At the end of the night — or at least until late in the fourth quarter when he starts to take over — you may not realize he’s dropped 30, 35 points. But ask the defenders who just had the life squeezed out of them: it’s deadly just the same.

Like a boa constrictor, Granger can flourish in almost any environment. We’ve never seen how Durant plays when he’s not the centerpiece of everything his team does, whether it’s high school, at Texas, with the Sonics/Thunder, even in the Rookie Challenge. Granger can adapt. The Pacers drafted him to be more Ron Artest than Alex English, a future defensive stopper. While serving that role he showed his scoring prowess even when he wasn’t the No. 1 option, and since then has gradually become one of the League’s elite offensive weapons.

While Durant is chasing the NBA scoring crown — currently in fourth place and rising — Granger has been more impressive in how he’s getting it done. His 25.0 points per game are right behind Durant’s 26.3 ppg. And while the Pacers’ record isn’t much better than OKC, they’ve played in more down-to-the-wire games in which Granger’s crunch-time scoring has been on display. Even when Granger isn’t dropping game-winners, he’s racked up countless clutch shots that have either kept his team in a game, or that were potential game-winners before an opponent delivered more timely daggers.

And at the end of a game, when Durant thrives or dives on jumpers, Granger is dangerous anywhere on the court. Against Cleveland on Feb. 10 he stuck the game-winning free throws with 0.1 seconds remaining. In Phoenix on Jan. 7 he dropped a buzzer-beating three when everyone in the building knew he was getting the ball. In Houston on Nov. 26, Granger was struggling with his J, but won the game on a drive to the basket where he tipped in his own miss; then on Houston’s last possession, forced Artest to give up the ball and helped force Yao to miss a layup. When has Durant made that kind of mark defensively?

Because he’s stronger and more mature, Granger (25) can play and defend more positions than Durant (20), including power forward, which he often plays when the Pacers go small.

Another thing to consider: Granger has played this entire season with a sore knee, until he was recently sidelined with a foot injury. Already far from the quickest, most athletic scorer — hardly the cobra — the fact that Granger has been performing at less than 100 percent puts him over the top.

Who do you think is better?

“Who’s better?” archives
2/19 — Paul Millsap vs. David Lee
2/17 — Caron Butler vs. Tayshaun Prince
12/24 — Marcus Camby vs. Andrew Bynum
12/19 — Deron Williams vs. Chauncey Billups
12/17 — Manu Ginobili vs. Tracy McGrady
12/12 — Amare Stoudemire vs. Al Jefferson
12/10 — Dirk Nowitzki vs. Chris Bosh
12/9 — Derrick Rose vs. O.J. Mayo
12/8 — Rasheed Wallace vs. Elton Brand
12/5 — Kevin Martin vs. Vince Carter
12/4 — Brandon Roy vs. Joe Johnson
12/3 — Dwight Howard vs. Yao Ming
12/2 — Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony

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  • the_don_mega

    tough call IMO…

  • YOUNGFED…”They had to kill 2 baby gators just to make my wrist watch” lmao

    Wow before I even got to Grangers article I already knew who was reppin’ Danny boy (Yeah I’m looking at you Austin)(lol).

    With that said I vote for Kevin (I walk like Lurch but look like Poop) Durant.

  • TJ

    I think Granger is better. He’s a much better defender and ball handler. Durant gets a lot of numbers right now at least partially because he plays on a team with maybe 4 decent NBA players.

    That being said, Durant’s going to be way better in the end. He just isn’t right now.

  • FiRE KATZ

    hmm whats the difference between these two articles?
    katz’s is full of bias and personal opinion
    ABs is well written, factual and flows smothly

    conclusion? FIRE KATZ

  • Dagomar

    There’s a difference between better RIGHT NOW and better in a year or two. With a kid who has as much upside as Durant those things are easy to confuse. Right now Durant is probably a better scorer than Granger (though it’s very close), but Granger is the better defender by such a wide margin it’s not even funny. Durant will probably become the best scorer in the league someday (although when Lebron is hitting those jumpers he is just unstoppable), but give me Granger right now.

  • goonther

    NOW GRANGER … TWO YEARS, DURANT

  • thomasmmm

    durant all the way.

  • Jayo

    I have to go with Granger. Durant MIGHT be a better scorer right now. But Granger is the better all-around player right now.

  • http://www.fiba.com/pages/eng/fc/even/rank/rankMen.asp rodnets

    Granger Better now defensively and offensively

    Durant Better offensively in the future, defensively don´t think so…he wants to score.

    Peace

  • http://GEE2.com Just another case of that ol PTA …GEE

    Both two great reads. I will have to go with Granger right now.

  • Ian

    granger

  • YOUNGFED…”They had to kill 2 baby gators just to make my wrist watch” lmao

    @Gee
    SLUUUUURRRRRP’

    You act like superhead or something, now that was a great read (lol)

  • YOUNGFED…”They had to kill 2 baby gators just to make my wrist watch” lmao

    @Gee
    SLUUUUURRRRRP’

    You act like they wrote superhead or something, now that was a great read (lol)

  • karizmatic

    Aren’t they the same player?
    KD is going to be a complete monster when the time comes, but still the next Kobe is a bit much.
    The Heir to the Air Apparent?

  • hahns

    WOW one of the better comparisons in this series. this is really tough call, but like everyone else, id go with granger. granger is the more complete player- but as a pure scorer, i dont think you can argue that durant is better. and like everyone has said, durant has a higher ceiling.

  • Prof. TX

    Durant looks like he has the higher ceiling, if he keeps improving. He might turn into what people thought McGrady or Dirk would be: big for his position, high scorer, team leader, etc.

    Hopefully he stays healthy and keeps developing. A little time in the weight room wouldn’t hurt.

  • d

    I think you can fit Granger into a lot of different systems and he doesn’t have to be the focal point to make a difference, like you point out.

    So, even though Durant can put up buckets, he has to be the #1 option. I thik overall, I’d build a team with, or around, Granger.

    Granger gets my vote.

  • Dagomar

    BTW:

    “He’s 6-10 and was put on Earth to shoot jumpers. Is there a better combination than that?”

    How about being 7′ and a better shooter (Dirk)?

  • Sanpitch

    this one is kind of tough because you have a one-dimensional player and a good all-around player. so it ain’t exactly comparing apples to apples.

    that being said….

    i got to give the slight nod to granger. granger does the stuff to get the team a “w”, whereas durant seems more motivated by individual accomplishments.

    granger gets my nod but not by much.

  • http://GEE2.com Just another case of that ol PTA …GEE

    Scuse me Young

    I’ll get like you then!

    I spend more money on groceries than you get in a year with added stimulus money!

    Durant is hot not as hot my bangers of the day! Can we compare someone to K-Hova

    Austin, Austin, Austin, Austin, Why no Detroit comparison!

    Hey here is a link to some gold loop earrings I got! Haters gonna stand up when they see these.

    Austin, Austin, Austin, I just wanted to type your name some more.

    Hey I supposedly saw AI at picnic and he sent some me some kool-aid. I never knew he was so cool.

    Austin you should write more about AI. Austin, Austin, Austin.

    WTF! GTFOH! SMDH! IAMSOLAME!

    That is more your style young hope you like that better.

    To all my haterrrzzzzzzzzz-Shawty LO!

  • Sanpitch

    hate to do this dime but isn’t durant listed at 6′-9″ not 6′-10″?

  • Sanpitch

    @20

    who you trying to kid? your broke-ass is at the local library on the computer. you ain’t got no benjamins in your pocket!

    and if you are spending more money on groceries then young makes in a year, then you are borderline stupid.

    it’s cool to act all tough when you are hidden behind your local library computer.

    you are a tool.

  • http://www.dimemag.com bullet380

    Durant all the way. Very good comparison article though.

    @ D:

    You’d build your team around Granger instead of Durant? Good luck with that. If I’m building my team for the future, I’m going with KD. That’s not even debatable.

  • Rafa23

    LMAO

    sanpitch didn’t understand gees post at all!

  • http://GEE2.com Just another case of that ol PTA …GEE

    Dang Young I must have nailed my impression. I actually got a dude to detest me like you are detested!

    Lol @ that guy getting me told!

  • Rafa23

    oh, and durant is 6-9 without shoes and 6-10 with shoes. so no problem here.

    btw, what about a comparison bird vs. magic or something? now that would be interesting.

  • Banga

    At the beginning of the season I would have taken Granger without a doubt…

    But Since Durant moved to Small Forward he has been killing it!!

    Durant for sure!

    Doesn’t Portland feel stupid for not taking Durant in the Draft…

    They could have had a starting lineup that included Roy, Durant and Aldridge.. and possibly Z-bo if they hung on to him

  • ERIC

    DURANT

  • ag

    Nobody says Lebron James is the toughest to guard. You pack the paint and let him shoot jumpers all day and he’ll shoot his team out of the game.

  • YOUNGFED….”Just to show off I hang my wrist out the window”

    @Gee
    Most of your impression was pretty funny except the Austin part, didn’t quite get that. Anyway half-day at the office so “I’ll Holla” (lol)

    BTW Watch your back dude sounded like he wanted to shank yo A$$ (LMAO)

  • Coop

    Only one of them is a decent defender. Better player right now? Granger.

  • Sanpitch

    yeah my bad i made an ass out of my self. i don’t know anything about shawty lo so it went over my head.

  • K.I.R

    Since they got rid of that donut Carlisemo durant has bee putting in a much more complete body of work he’s contributing in boards and the occasional assist.

    Durant also is extremely crunch – its just that the other team team always score on a last shjot against someone lese- cp on weaver- (yes he has toplay close games with guys like Weaver still on the court in th clutch)

    Granger is nice, real nice but its gotta be KD IMHO

  • Mark

    Haven’t seen many Kevin Durant games (the Thunder? Please.), but his game reminds me of T-Mac back in the day, picking off in his Orlando days sans injury.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    Durant.

    Granger is a better all-around player right now although I would like to see him use his post up game more often. Right now he settles for too many three’s.

    If I had to pick between the two of them to start my team I’d take Durant. Durant is going to be a killer someday. He will be one of the most dangerous players in the League.

  • http://www.espn.com Sho-Nuff

    @ GEE

    That was pretty funny.

  • Simon

    KD muthasuckaz!

  • control

    @20

    Hahahah!

  • Smitty313

    KD is a beast. He shoots the ball with ease. He will lead the league in scoring in a year or two.

  • Vinny

    KD is a better all around player then some of you give him credit for! In 2 years he could challenge labron for best player in the game!! I’ll take KD now over granger.

  • frankfso

    Good comparison, I’d go with Durant now and in the future.

  • Vinny

    oh and he’s only 20!!!!

  • kevin k

    I hate AKATZ but you have to go with Durant. KD’s D is underrated and don’t even compare Granger to KD’s clutch. KD is avg more points while shooting 5% higher in FG, more rebounds and steals. Indiana is 6-2 without Granger. OKC without KD? they wouldnt even win 10 games.

  • kevin k

    wait OKC has 13 wins so far with him. let me take that back. OKC wouldn’t even win 5 games.

  • doc

    Good shit Gee.Give me Durant.And it aint even close to me.And I got Larry Bird trading Granger for Durant.

  • hucklebuck

    at this moment, Batman is the better player. Once Durant gets some meat on his bones and plays some defense, then the comparison can be made. If u prefer a smooth and silky player, Durant is the guy. If you prefer a hard-nosed gutsy and more versatile player, Granger is the man. RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW-Granger.

  • kevin k

    @ hucklebuck

    once again, there is something wrong with your perception.
    KD needs to play some D? you kidding me? yea, he is not a lock down defender and needs to buff up little bit, but his D is not bad at all. And how is Granger more versatile when KD is avg more points, rebs, stls, and shoots higher % in all categories?

  • top_gun

    Is this even a question ? Durant scores at will and on anyone. Granger can be stopped…

    In terms of defence, Durant is long, lanky, has the speed but not the strength. He could easily improve in that area. Granger on the other hand, doesn’t even play proper defence. Seriously, watch this guy closely.

    KD hands down.

  • recession balla

    Durant….Granger is in a suit on the sidelines right now…case closed

  • ProphetGK

    Kevin Durant is better than Granger, way better! I,m Surprised he is rated only 90 (in NBA 2K9) comparing to Granger’s rating of 92. Durant is better now, and in a couple years, will maybe even be the best in the league.

  • 555

    I am 100% agreed with K.I.R that Durant has made many game winning/tie shots. Like what he did when he was in Sonics uniform that he put up two 3 point shots to brought his team to OT, DOT then won that game. But, many times also turned out that his teammates were not doing anything and allowed the other teams scored the last seconds shots on them to lose the games.
    As a all around player, maybe Granger is a bit better RIGHT NOW. But, as a player that you want to build a team on… It has to be Durant without arguement…

  • Nelly

    Granger led his team to beat the best teams in the NBA. He also passed Kevin Durant in PPG towards the end of the season when I thought he wouldn’t. If I were to choose a better overall player, It would have to be Granger. He was the 17th pick in the draft and no one thought he was gonna be an all-star player. Kevin Durant was the 2nd pick and people knew he was going to be good, but he still has a long way too go to be an all-star in the West.

    Granger will also whoop him in a fight :)

  • YoungMag

    Durant will be better in the future but right now Granger has it more clutch way better defender(check where he ranks in blocks especially for his position) and just as good of an scorer if the Pacers had better defense they’d be a 6th seed team in the east no problem.

  • Jeremy

    durrant is in a system that allows him to do pretty much whatever he wants although durrant plays the SG majority of the time he is often out played he has some work to do on the defensive end but if that improves and he can become a lockdown defender and his distributing hes an mvp candidate. and his improvement from year 1 to 2 was out of sight

    granger block shots get steals score plays great defense in a very distinctive system