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Why Michael Jordan is a better scorer than Kevin Durant

The ESPN analyst shared another one of his hot takes.
Who are you giving the ball if you need a bucket?

Who are you giving the ball if you need a bucket?

Although LeBron James is rising rapidly on the scoring list and getting closer day by day to overcoming Kareem as the #1, nobody is really considering him the best scorer of all-time. That role is reserved primarily for two names that are really hard to differentiate and rank - Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant. ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith talked about this debate and offered his take on why he gives MJ the nod.

Different mentality

Looking at the god-given gifts and natural ability to put the ball in the basket, Durant is unmatched. To be able to shoot, handle the ball and move at 6'10'' with long arms makes KD a matchup nightmare with no real solution to stop him. That scoring ability has brought him 4x scoring titles, as he is a 29.6 ppg scorer for his career with no signs of slowing down even at 33 years old. That is why many people would label KD the consensus greatest scorer in NBA history.

But there is this one guy named Michael Jordan. You might have heard of him. MJ is the GOAT in the eyes of many, but you can just as easily put the GOAT of scoring label on him. 30.1 ppg for his entire career and 10 scoring titles speak for themselves, but it's not all about the pure numbers.

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KD maybe is more gifted and dangerous from the outside, but when it comes to scoring, mentality plays a big part in it. Stephen A. made sure to make a note of that when debating Kendrick Perkins, who took Durant as his pick in the debate. Smith explained why MJ is still #1:

"Jordan's ability to finish at the basket, Jordan's ability with his mid-range game, Jordan having aerial assault that was unrivaled, Jordan playing in a far more psychical era, etc...Stil is a career 30 ppg scorer that played in arguably the most psychical time in basketball...and his mentality was that of an assassin."

Stephen A. Smith, ESPN

Like Stephen A. said, MJ is no match for KD regarding shooting ability and size, but there is much more to the scoring debate than that. For instance, Jordan was putting up ridiculous numbers, averaging 30+ ppg in numerous seasons when defense was still tough and relevant. Compared to the open and fast game we have today, Jordan's era was much slower and rugged, as you can argue, he could have averaged 40+ ppg if he played today.

The other part of Smith's argument is the killer mentality. We all know that there is not a more cold-blooded assassin in the history of the game than MJ, and that trait really made him an unstoppable scorer. The fact he would never defer but always take it upon himself to finish a game makes him stand out more than KD. Although Durant doesn't shy away from the moment, he is much more likely to defer to his teammate than MJ.

It's a very interesting and deep debate that can be discussed for days, as both MJ and KD have special cases to be labeled the greatest scorers of all time. But in the end, it's all about preferences and what makes a great scorer in the eyes of every individual. The fact of the matter is that you really can't go wrong with either of these guys.

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