Every week on NBA.com, we'll unveil a new bracket with daily matchups to vote on. By the end of the week, we'll crown a champion and determine a winner based on fan voting. Up next for this week? The best one-on-one scorer in the post-Michael Jordan era.
Is Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant the best one-on-one scorer since Michael Jordan?
After starting the week with a field of 16 of the best isolation scorers to get buckets since MJ retired from the Chicago Bulls in 1998, you've helped us narrow that all the way down to our final two.
In the semifinals, Durant received 62% of the vote in his duel with LeBron James while Kobe Bryant more handily knocked out James Harden, winning 76% of the vote.
On to the championship!
1 Kevin Durant vs 2 Kobe Bryant
The top two seeds square off in a one-on-one duel that just feels right. While there have certainly been some other transcendent scorers over the last two decades, none stand out quite like Durant and Bryant.
Durant was a scoring champ by the age of 21 and can literally do it all. Drives in either direction, unblockable pull-ups and a sweet stroke from downtown, Durant's size and fluid mechanics make for a complete scorer that's almost an impossible cover one-on-one. His four scoring titles are tied for the third-most ever behind only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
In recent history, Bryant is probably the player with a deeper bag of tricks than Durant. And given who Bryant emulated, that probably doesn't come as much of a surprise.
Every trick that Jordan had, Kobe had. It's for that reason why Jordan himself declared that Kobe is the only player who could have beaten him one-on-one in his prime.
"I don't think I'd lose, other than to Kobe Bryant because he steals all of my moves."⠀- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 22, 2020
-Michael Jordan on the players he'd love to play one-on-one (via @NBA2K ) pic.twitter.com/rB0zggYYpE
Honestly, you probably can't go wrong.
Here's how the voting played out in the earlier rounds to help get us to this point.
The first round featured some blowouts, a few close calls and one major upset:
- 1 Kevin Durant def. 16 Dirk Nowitzki: 86% of vote
- 2 Kobe Bryant def. 15 DeMar DeRozan: 94% of vote
- 3 James Harden def. 14 Gilbert Arenas: 87% of vote
- 4 LeBron James def. 13 Paul Pierce: 84% of vote
- 12 Tracy McGrady def. 5 Carmelo Anthony: 64% of vote
- 6 Kyrie Irving def. 11 Derrick Rose: 65% of vote
- 7 Allen Iverson def. 10 Joe Johnson: 92% of vote
- 8 Stephen Curry def. 9 Kawhi Leonard: 59% of vote
The top four seeds all rumbled to emphatic wins in the quarterfinals, setting up an all chalk final four. Here's how the quarterfinals played out:
- 1 Kevin Durant def 8 Stephen Cury: 70% of vote
- 2 Kobe Bryant def. 7 Allen Iverson: 82% of vote
- 3 James Harden def. 6 Kyrie Irving: 71% of vote
- 4 LeBron James def. 12 Tracy McGrady: 71% of vote
- Monday: First Round
- Tuesday: Quarterfinals
- Wednesday: Semifinals
- Thursday: Championship
- Friday: Winner announced
|1.||Kevin Durant||9.||Kawhi Leonard|
|2.||Kobe Bryant||10.||Joe Johnson|
|3.||James Harden||11.||Derrick Rose|
|4.||LeBron James||12.||Tracy McGrady|
|5.||Carmelo Anthony||13.||Paul Pierce|
|6.||Kyrie Irving||14.||Gilbert Arenas|
|7.||Allen Iverson||15.||DeMar DeRozan|
|8.||Stephen Curry||16.||Dirk Nowitzki|
Some of the hardest omissions:
- Wizards MJ. He could still get 50 and had a bag of tricks deeper than anybody.
- Chris Paul. One of the most efficient one-on-one scorers of the last decade with a killer pull-up jumper.
- Damian Lillard. Will casually drain 38-footers without a care in the world.
- Jamal Crawford. You can't have a conversation about best crossovers without mentioning his name.
- Brandon Roy. He had the complete toolkit before injuries robbed him of reaching his prime.
- Russell Westbrook. He settles for too many ill-advised shots to make the cut but his ability to overpower and explode is unmatched.
- Ray Allen. He was picked to play Jesus Shuttlesworth!
- Zion Williamson. Yeah, I said it. How do you stop him one-on-one? No seriously, I'll wait.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.