Kawhi, KD and Kyrie Are The New Top 3, and The Playoffs Are Proving It
With Steph Curry taking a definitive backseat on a team that was once his, and LeBron completely off of the radar, the 2019 NBA Playoffs have caused a shakeup in the pecking order of the NBA’s top dogs. Just three seasons ago it was thought to be unanimous that Steph and LeBron were the best two players in the world, not just in the NBA. Fast forward to the 2018-2019 season where neither Bron nor Steph were given legitimate considerations for the MVP award, and it’s hard to disagree that either should even be considered a top 3 player. And although I haven’t yet made any reference to this season’s likely MVP, Giannis Antetokuonmpo, there’s an argument that the Greek Freak and his newfound dominance could soon eclipse LeBron and Steph’s if he hasn’t already.
Still, I don’t have Giannis above Kawhi, KD or Kyrie. As dominant as Giannis has been this season, the fact still remains that he can’t shoot. Putting the ball in the basket is literally the name of the game, and Giannis can’t do that consistently unless he is at point blank range. I have him just outside of the Top 3 as a result. But the 3 players I have in front of him are even more special, and unlike Giannis, they have all proven themselves on the NBA’s grand stage. But what is the actual order? Which superstar of this impending free agent trio is taking gold, silver and bronze? Let’s start with #3
#3 Kyrie Irving
Finals MVP’s: 0
Top 3 Claim: Winning shot over Steph Curry in Game 7 of the Finals
If you don’t know me, you’re wondering how the hell Kyrie made this list. If you know me, you’re probably just as surprised as I am that he isn’t higher on this list. Kyrie Irving is one of the rare talents in the NBA that can be virtually unstoppable once he gets going, couple that with his ability to consistently deliver in the clutch and it’s hard to keep him outside of the Top 3. His direct competition? Dame and Steph. Who wins in a game of 21? That answer is even more obvious.
#2 Kawhi Leonard
Finals MVP’s: 1
Top 3 Claim: Beating LeBron in the finals at 21 years old
Here’s a challenge, name one thing Kawhi can’t do on the basketball court. You can’t. Defend, dribble, pass, rebound or whatever Kawhi can do it all. Most people would agree that Kawhi has been a top 3 talent in the NBA for a few years now, at 27 years old he is in the prime of his career and is delivering 40+ point games to lead his team in the playoffs. His direct competition are LeBron and KD. With LeBron finally in the twilight of his career, it’s becoming easier to rank Kawhi above him. As for KD, well, see below.
#1 Kevin Durant
Finals MVP’s: 2
Top 3 Claim: NBA Finals Game 3 winning shot over LeBron
Kevin Durant is 7 feet tall. He is also a sharpshooter that handles the rock like an elite guard. If you had to make a video game player, he’d look just like KD. Special is an understatement when describing Durant, so we use words like anomaly, kingslayer and sniper. It isn’t general consensus for KD yet, a lot of people still have LeBron as the big dog on campus and there’s a growing legion of Greek Freak support as the number one guy. But with two consecutive championships, and a third on the forecast, a power shift is coming and I believe there will be a definitive crowning very soon.