The Oklahoma City Thunder will travel to play the New York Knicks tonight which means two of the best pure scorers in the NBA will be facing off.
Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are each playing the best basketball of their respective careers this season and have their teams as legitimate title contenders.
Whenever the debate comes up about who is the best pure scorer in the NBA, Durant and Anthony are talked about the most.
To try and decipher this debate, let’s break down scoring into these categories: outside shooting, off the dribble and back to the basket.
This is Durant’s bread and butter. He has earned a reputation as not just one of the best outside shooters in today’s game, but of all-time as well. Durant’s shot is essentially unblockable because of his height and length and his range is unlimited.
Anthony can heat up as quickly as any player in the league and he’s shooting a career-high 38.3 percent from three this season. He seemed to have carried over the momentum he had this past summer with Team USA into this season where he was such a deadly outside shooter.
Anthony can’t match Durant’s prowess in this area. Durant is shooting 42.1 percent from three this season which is also a career-high. Durant is 10th in the NBA scoring 1.31 points per possession (PPP) on spot-up plays while Anthony is just 66th in the league scoring 1.11 PPP on those plays.
Advantage: Kevin Durant
Off the dribble
Durant has come a long way this season scoring off the dribble. He’s always had an alarmingly skilled handle for his size and this year he has done a great job cutting down on the turnovers and becoming more efficient.
Anthony is also very good off the dribble. When he puts his head down and gets into the paint, he becomes one of the toughest things to stop in this league.
Durant is 20th in the league scoring 0.90 PPP on plays where he is the pick-and-roll ball handler. Anthony ranks 4th scoring 1.04 PPP on those plays. On isolation plays, Durant is 14th scoring 0.97 PPP while Anthony is 43rd scoring 0.87 PPP.
This one is close but you have to give the nod to Durant here again.
Advantage: Kevin Durant
Back to the basket
Durant has been trying to play more with his back to the basket the longer he has been in the league. Since he can shoot over anybody, the closer he gets to the basket the more deadly he will become.
Anthony is really known as one of the best players in the post in the league. He is relentless inside and gets a lot of buckets from offensive rebounds. He is so quick with his first step and has a fantastic spin move that he can pull off in traffic.
Durant is 5th in the NBA scoring 1.06 PPP on post-up plays this season. Anthony is 11th in the NBA scoring 0.98 PPP on those plays. Anthony does post up more though and scores more on putbacks.
Advantage: Carmelo Anthony
Durant takes home the title of best pure scorer in the NBA. You might have been able to make a case for Anthony in the past but what Durant is doing this season is truly special. He has improved in all facets of his game and become an unmatched efficient scoring machine.
Tonight we will hopefully get to see the two leading scorers in the league go head-to-head. Anthony missed last night’s game with a knee injury and is still questionable for tonight.