Every week, we’ll be pitting our two die-hard Larry Bird fans in a duel to the death on a fantasy debate. Hopefully this will become as infamous as Burr vs. Hamilton. Look what it did for Broadway! This week, we’re taking a look at who is fantasy’s number one player. After a slow start from Curry, Adam is going for Kevin Durant, with Billy sticking with Harden. Let the vitriol fly!
Adam: So why KD over Harden? There is no doubt that Harden is putting up fantastic counting stats this year. However, with the increase in usage, he has become a bigger turnover machine than Westbrook! 5 turnovers per game for Harden and only 2 per game for KD. That is a massive difference. The other huge stat in Kevin’s favor is his FG%. With all star teammates, Durant has averaged 57% shooting through the first 4. I don’t see this dropping under 55%, since he was over 50% in OKC where there was a lot of pressure. Plus, he is in a slump from deep to start to the year – averaging less than a trey a game on 23% shooting. Clearly that will improve. On top of the better offensive efficiency, KD can now focus on defense and the added effort has really shone through in his stats. 3 steals per game and 1.5 blocks per game. I could see the steals coming down a bit to closer to 2, but the blocks should hold, especially since Durant is the primary shot blocking big man on the team.
Given this information, I would argue that Durant is better than Harden, given his consistency and lack of weaknesses. With KD, there are no trade-offs, whereas with Harden, you get more volume, but you do pay the price for it.
Billy (wheyen3): Harden will turn the ball over; I can’t argue that. He’s controlling so much of his team’s offensive fate that it’s a foregone conclusion. However, that shouldn’t turn people away from what Harden can do for your team. He gets to the line more than anyone in the league, and still shoots above 85% every season. With a lot of his scoring coming from the line, his field goal percentage isn’t as poor as one might think; many games, he simply bails out his poor shots by drawing a foul on them. Let’s move beyond that; KD and Harden will both score, they’ll both hit threes, they’ll both make their free throws. However, the place Harden definitively wins is assists. He already has 15- and 17-assist games this season, and he’s only played four games. In those two games, he’s also put up 41 and 34 points, respectively. Think about that… A good point guard might get you the double digit assists, and a good scorer might get you those point totals; Harden does it all by himself. It frees up a whole different spot to specialize in any defensive specialists you might need, instead of needing that pass-happy point guard to go with your great scorer. He creates a lot more flexibility in how you achieve any categories you want to dominate.
That is why I would go James Harden number one. His potential for monster scoring and passing games, with strong free throw percentage and three-point shooting, he will lead your team to glory.
Adam: While I agree that Harden does not have FG% that will hurt you at all, KD has Lebronesque shooting potential this year, except with much higher three ball percentage than Bron Bron. On top of that, KD is getting to the line at a much higher rate than previous years, and he is converting with his usual 90%+ efficiency. Durant will also take it in rebounds, as well as defensive stats. This leaves points and assists to Harden, which I will certainly grant. KD will be significantly shorter in the assists area (about 4 per game vs 10+), but he should be in the same ball park scoring wise. The icing on the cake is the huge turnover deficit. Granted, Durant’s may come up a bit, but he should still win by a 2 TO margin. All of that being said, I can see the argument for taking a high volume guy with the first pick, however, Durant gives slightly less volume, with significantly higher stability. I could see a draft strategy of pairing Harden with a good big in the second round, but I think Durant lends much more flexibility to a team. Personally, I don’t want to lose any stats coming out of the first round, and that’s why KD is the clear choice. Harden is certainly a dominant player, but given the better efficiency, improved free throw volume, high end defensive stats, solid rebounding, and low turnover rate, Kevin Durant is the best player in fantasy.
Billy: I can see the argument for a balanced player, or a player who doesn’t set you up to be behind, in the first round. If I take Harden, I think he wins me multiple categories as long as I surround him with decent players. I don’t know if Durant can single-handedly win you anything, what with scoring being inconsistent on a Warriors team with lots of options; I think Harden can carry you to wins in points and assists. To each their own, but I’m gonna take the guy I think gives me the best shot at winning categories, and not necessarily just a good start in them.
Who wins this round?! And if you have any ideas at what the Birds should fight over next, shoot your comments below!