Warriors

NBA rumors: Kevin Durant wants to be seen as better than LeBron James

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NBA rumors: Kevin Durant wants to be seen as better than LeBron James

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. P.T., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

LeBron James has held the title of "best basketball player in the world" for about seven or eight years now.

In the eyes of many, Kevin Durant has been considered the second-best player alive for the last five or six seasons.

LeBron and Durant went head-to-head in the 2017 NBA Finals, and here were the results:
Durant -- 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks, 1.0 steals, 55.6 percent overall, 47.4 percent from deep, dagger 3-pointer over LeBron in Game 3, Finals MVP
LeBron -- 33.6 points, 12.0 rebounds, 10.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.4 steals, 56.4 percent overall, 38.7 percent from deep

In the post-Finals narrative, there was no "changing of the guard" commentary as LeBron still was considered the top dog -- which didn't (and presumably still doesn't) sit well with Durant.

From Ethan Strauss of The Athletic:

Sources say that Durant believed his besting of LeBron James in the 2017 Finals would get him hailed as the game’s top player, a mantle he’s craved for some time ... KD, who was “tired of being second” way back in 2013, was still stuck there reputationally, even in ultimate victory.

He was still behind LeBron in the eyes of pundits, basketball Twitter, and perhaps most importantly, at Nike, who’s employed Durant longer than any team. Then, the next Finals unfolded in much the same way, with much the same result, all while Warriors fans cheered loudest for the smaller MVP’s baskets.

Looking back at it, Durant must have been pretty frustrated with what Steve Kerr told ESPN's Zach Lowe after Golden State claimed the 2017 NBA title.

"LeBron's the best player in basketball. We know that," Kerr declared. Although the Warriors coach added, "KD is right there with him," it was clear Durant was No. 2.

[RELATEDKD is under a cloud, and Warriors need him to step out]

Fast forward to today, and you have people like ESPN's Max Kellerman say Durant might not be a top-five player at this point (which is beyond ridiculous). Durant hears all of this kind of stuff, and it impacts him.

Now that the Durant-to-the-Knicks rumors have heated up, the 10-time All-Star hasn't spoke to reporters in over a week. He's in somewhat of a funk, and it's unclear when we'll hear from him again.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

NBA Draft 2020: Deni Avdija celebrated Warriors' 2015 title in old photo

NBA Draft 2020: Deni Avdija celebrated Warriors' 2015 title in old photo

If the Warriors select 19-year-old Deni Avdija in the early stages of the 2020 NBA Draft, they'll be picking a player who appears to have been a fan of the franchise for at least a quarter of his life.

The Israeli-Serbian forward has been lighting up the Israeli Basketball Premier League for Maccabi Tel Aviv, averaging 18.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. ESPN's NBA draft guru Mike Schmitz describes Avdija as an "aggressive offensive player who is in attack mode every time he steps onto the floor," who, "loves shooting pull-up 3-pointers in transition."

Hmmm. Sound familiar?

That would seem to mirror the way the Warriors played throughout their (still ongoing?) dynastic run. Given a photo posted to Avdija's Instagram in September of 2016, it would appear he has been a fan of Golden State for some time.

View this post on Instagram

מה זה בית ספר #🇪🇸

A post shared by Deni Avdija (@deniavdia8) on

That's the Warriors 2015 NBA Champions hat that Avdija is wearing while apparently sailing off the coast of Spain. A good-looking hat for an even better view.

[RELATED: Watch potential Dubs draft target Avdija dominate in Israel]

Just throwing this out there, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess he's a pretty big fan of Steph Curry, too.

Maybe, just maybe, they'll be teammates within a few months, and Avdija will have more Warriors apparel than he'll know what to do with.

Shaq gives outrageous breakdown of potential Lakers-Warriors matchup

Shaq gives outrageous breakdown of potential Lakers-Warriors matchup

Shaquille O'Neal won't back down from this debate.

The Hall of Fame center is 100 percent convinced his three-peat Los Angeles Lakers were better than the Steph Curry and Kevin Durant-led Warriors.

Shaq has made it clear over the last two years that he believes the 1999 through 2002 championship Lakers would have easily beaten the 2016 through 2019 Warriors in a hypothetical matchup.

The Diesel even claimed that the Warriors wouldn't have been a contender during the Lakers' dominant run.

But in an interview with Maxim Magazine published Tuesday, Shaq said the Lakers starters would have won every 1-on-1 matchup with the Warriors.

Brace yourselves, Warriors fans.

"I have a hard time believing that the greatest coach of all time (Phil Jackson), plus me and Kobe [Bryant], wouldn’t match up quite nicely against Steve Kerr and his gang," Shaq said. "Kobe takes Steph and dominates him. [Derek] Fisher takes Klay and manhandles him. [Rick] Fox takes Draymond and makes him foul out in the first half. Horace [Grant] would do his thing with K.D. But let’s be real, K.D., is a beast, and you can only do so much with him. And then I’d remind [Zaza] Pachulia why I am in the Hall of Fame and he is not."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Where do we even begin?

Yes, Kobe was an elite defender, but Curry is a generational talent. He would not have been dominated by Bryant. Steph against a prime Kobe would have been must-see TV, but it wouldn't have been as one-sided as Shaq believes.

If Shaq thinks Klay would be manhandled by anyone, let alone Fisher, he hasn't watched the Warriors shooting guard enough. Thompson has five inches on Fisher and would just shoot right over him.

If Fox tried to bully Draymond, the Warriors forward would pull a Doug Christie and sock him in the jaw. Draymond's motor would give him the edge in that matchup.

Durant would get his against Grant or any other defender the Lakers threw at him. You know who he is. He's Kevin Durant.

The only matchup the Lakers win hands down is Shaq vs. Zaza. Sorry, Zaza.

Shaq's Lakers were able to do something the Warriors weren't able to do: Three-peat. But Golden State very likely would have accomplished the feat if Durant and Thompson had been healthy for the entirety of the 2019 NBA Finals.

[RELATED: Why Curry, Dubs would dominate Lakers]

Yes, Shaq has every right to defend his Lakers teams, but to say they would completely dominate those Warriors teams is a bit far-fetched. Before Durant arrived, the Warriors won 73 games. After he signed, they steamrolled the league on their way to back-to-back NBA titles, and could have three-peated.

This debate will never be settled, but one thing is for sure. Shaq won't let it go.