Contemplating if a player would beat another in one-on-one is entirely different than comparing success rates. Some players on this list are arguably, or just statistically worse than Kevin Durant. One-on-One is a battle of athleticism, mental awareness, and physical awareness. Kevin Durant is undoubtably one of the top athletes in all of basketball and sports altogether. One-on-one involves significant head game. If a player gets down in the point race, the winning player will continue to get the ball. This will cause fatigue in both players, but this tiredness will most likely affect the player losing significantly more. Truthfully, Durant's height will really benefit him in a one-on-one game, but this being said, a player who is very fast would be better. According to scientific evidence, and specifically momentum laws, nor speed nor height is more beneficial. The equation p = mv identifies this evidentially. P equals momentum, m being massiveness, and v equaling velocity.
The question whether who will win a one-on-one battle is not based on how is necessarily more successful in the sport, but who has certain skills that are applicably vital to a one-on-one game. I will talk about the players skills, and weaknesses, and how these certain attributes would affect a game between KD and this individual. KD has certain skills that make him very good and I will address these skill sets more in depth. When I did this article on Stephen Curry, it was easier to pick individuals who could go against him. Curry is short and lacks power at the basket. Durant on the other hand is nearly seven feet and is a very strong player at the basket, and is very productive at getting to the basket. Though this is not always the case, since Durant shoots the ball almost every time he gets the ball, this factor is important in the overall authenticity of the article. Here are 15 players who could take Kevin "KD" Durant on in one-on-one.
15 Zach Lavine
The former dunk contest winner has unbelievable ways of getting to the basket. Comparing these two players in regular season play is not possible; KD is a substantially more productive player. Regardless, Lavine is very athletic when he gets close to the rim. For those who watched his dunk contest against Aaron Gordon, I would say it is the best contest I have witnessed. Lavine is very crafty and could take Durant to the basket with his swift ball handling. If you truly want to re-live his insane dunks just look on Instagram under a hashtag #LavineDunk or #2015DunkContest. The night will live in infamy, as one of the greatest dunk contest finals ever.
I think Lavine is very talented in regards to movement and athleticism. He is a solid shooter, but would not strive in this area considering Durant is a giant compared to him.
14 DeMar DeRozan
Standing at 6-foot-7, DeMar is well worth his $26.54 million contract in Toronto. The Compton High School and USC alum would have a good chance to take down KD in one-on-one. I think he tends to play better defense than Durant - so this would be a vital factor to his success. He has been playing extremely well in Drake's hometown and deserves recognition as a top tier NBA caliber player. DeMar may have success taking Durant to the basket or posting up against him in the paint, but he may find more success shooting the ball. He shot for .446 from the field and .338 from the three point line. KD statistically shot a little better than DeRozan in the 2016 regular season, but my opinion remains. DeMar is aggressive, and though Durant is obviously exactly that, he would put up a substantial fight worth watching.
13 Kyle Korver
By no means is Kyle Korver as athletic or statistically successful as Kevin Durant. But Korver is arguably one of the best three point shooters the NBA has ever seen. Over his career, he has shot .429 from the three point line. Also, he holds a couple important records. He currently has the best three point shooting percentage in a season record on lockdown at 54% and remains the record holder in the 76ers organization for most threes in a season with 226. It is no mystery to owners that Korver is an extremely valuable player to have. He would beat Durant by nailing threes in his face.
Though Durant would have some inches on him, Korver isn't really short by any means. He is 6-foot-7. What will benefit Korver is his shooting. Taking Durant to the basket would not be his best move, as Durant is a very good blocker. For Korver to win, and I believe he could, he must get in open space and shoot an open look.
12 Boban Marjanovic
Boban is 7-foot-3, and is the 13th tallest player in NBA history. The Detroit Piston would beat Durant out down low. Obviously, Boban Marjanovic is not as good nor athletic as KD, but his height could be a major factor in success rate in one-on-one. Height is very vital in a one-on-one match and so is strength. Boban has both of these things, and may be able to post up against Durant. Boban played a seasons with the Spurs in 2015-16, but then he signed a three year, $21 million contract with Detroit. He has gotten extended minutes from Van Gundy as a solid alternative to Drummond and Aron Baynes.
Marjanovic would struggle against Durant from a speed outlook, but he may be able to get a piece of KD's layups down low. Considering he is taller than 7 feet, one must consider the idea that he has to be a good shot blocker, since his head is under three feet to the basket. This could be a very interesting matchup to watch for.
11 Kawhi Leonard
Leonard actually just got randomly drug tested by the NBA for his 39 point performance on March 6th against the Rockets. Leonard has emerged as the typical Spurs player, quiet but confident. He has emerged as a top tier athlete in the league. Additionally, he will probably get selected to all NBA first team. The five year veteran is averaging nearly 27 points this season and shooting 48.8 percent from the field. Leonard is an aggressive forward who could potentially take Durant at different spots on the court. Leonard has developed into more than anyone could have realistically expected.
Though he was expected to be somewhat of a threat in the NBA, he has developed into an MVP caliber type player. I think Kawhi would have a good chance of beating Durant because he is an insanely good defender. Leonard is a two time NBA defensive player of the year. If anything, this athleticism trait would help him a lot in a game of one-on-one.
10 LaMarcus Aldridge
For a long time, Aldridge has been a top 15 player in the NBA. Since his days in Portland, his success rate down low has been unbelievable. Aldridge would beat Durant in the post specifically, but generally, by bodying him down low. LaMarcus is 6-foot-11, so I am not remotely worried about Durant having some height advantage, unlike other players that may be by some extent shorter. LaMarcus has a two inch height advantage, which would be very useful against KD. Durant has a nice wingspan, so Aldridge would have to try to keep the ball high.
Regardless, this matchup would be extremely interesting. Additionally, Aldridge has a solid jump shot. The Austin alum has shot close to 49% during his career and 47.2% in 2016 alone. He has never been a huge scorer, but he puts up very respectable numbers, they just aren't within range of Durant's near 30 PPG averages.
9 Damian Lillard
Lillard is a very exciting and athletic player. The 6-foot-3 guard will be biologically outmatched by Durant's height of 6'9, but this will not be the primary obstacle. Lillard would have to keep pace with KD, as he really should be able to. He actually is a nice rebounder, but I doubt he will be easily grabbing rebounds on Durant. Lillard would need to take pull up shots, but not necessarily three pointers. In the last 10 games, he has shot .437 from the field. This is indicative of strong scoring ability, which moves me to his scoring value thus far. He has averaged 26 PPG thus far and has made significant progress since his first season. I am not saying Damian is the first person that comes to mind when I think of someone beating Durant, but I certainly believe he could do so from speed, quickness and shooting.
8 DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins was recently involved in a major trade sending him to the Pelicans to play with the beast Anthony Davis. Though the two have struggled together thus far, I have a lot of faith that the two will end up killing it in New Orleans together. Cousins is arguably the best center in the league. He has averaged 27.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG and 1.3 BPG this season. He would have no problem bodying Durant down low and getting the ball up over KD. At nearly seven feet, Cousins is a major threat to any defender in the paint.
Durant would have a difficult time getting the ball up against DeMarcus, but he wouldn't necessarily be troubled out running him. For Cousins to win this one-on-one match, he would need to stay in his element. This would entail staying down low and not getting to close to Durant on the perimeter. He would win by grabbing boards and making layups, boring as it sounds.
7 Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler is a very special guard. If you don't believe me, for whatever odd reason, watch this video. He has been extremely productive for some time now, and is having a good season as well. He has averaged 23.9 PPG, 5.1 APG and shot 44.6% from the field. The Marquette alum can be very explosive near the basket. Before the Bulls lost Derrick Rose, Butler was more of a semi-star. At this point, he has emerged into a superstar. He has potentially hit the perk of his career. Butler and Durant would have it out on the basketball court. It would be a truly interesting one-on-one game to watch, but I do actually think Butler could have the edge over KD. As I have mentioned, Durant has a very nice wingspan, but this can be balanced out with Butler's deadly pump fake. In various games, he is a menace at the three point line, but even more so, when he does a sick pump fake and dunks the ball home.
6 Paul George
After Paul George's injury, there was uncertainty as to whether he would be healthy enough to get back on the court. He has been extremely strong-willed throughout his rehab. It is clear that he is now back to his old self. He has averaged 22.2 PPG this season, 3.3 APG, and has shot nearly 45% from the field. George is a good shooter and has been known to be since his college days. I think he is a very aggressive presence down low, and may be able to body Durant. This being said, Durant is obviously a big dude, but George has unbelievable tenacity on the ball in the paint. The two are very similar in height, so I do not necessarily think Durant has some sort of biological advantage.
5 Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson may be the best three point shooter of all time. Though Stephen Curry has insane range and has been time and time again qualified as a fantastic shooter, Thompson, in many ways, has proven to be a more reliable option from the perimeter. Klay averaged 22.1 points per game in 2015-16 and shot .470 from the field. In various ways, Klay could win by simply outshooting Durant. Since the player who scores in one-on-one gets the ball back, Klay would benefit from just hitting shots that are easily within his range. If he does this, he would continue to get possession of the basketball and have the opportunity to continue to get the ball against KD. This is not to say Klay is just a shooter; he has other productive aspects to his game. Klay can passionately drive the ball to the basket and is an aggressive defender.
4 Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving was by all means an MVP type player in last year's amazing NBA Finals series. Irving is a point guard, but he plays the game big. It is evident that he can play extremely well in the post or in the paint. The 6-foot-3 guard has averaged 25.1 PPG this season, 5.9 APG, and 1.3 SPG. Kyrie is no simplistic guard and is very multi dimensional. Irving may have a little bit of a tough time driving on Durant, but offensively, he is more than qualified to be able to potentially beat KD. Irving has been fantastic since he entered the league in 2011 and he has certainly developed into a very productive point guard. His numbers have been increasing in value for quite some time, and he is undoubtably a top tier guard, if not the best point guard in the league.
He may have success backing Durant up in the post, but shooting could also be a successful option for him.
3 James Harden
Harden showed his leadership and true ability when he was shipped over to the Houston Rockets from Oklahoma City. Harden has a very nice shot and is a strong body in the paint. He will probably make All-NBA first team this season since he is averaging very steady and consistently good numbers. This season he is putting up 29.0 PPG and 11.3 APG. Passing won't really help him in a game of one-on-one, but his strong defensive skills will certainly work to his benefit. In the last 10 games, he has averaged 1.4 steals per game and in all of March he has averaged 1.0 steals per game. Durant has a little bit of height on Harden but this is no huge obstacle in a matchup. Harden has showed the ability to make stuff happen, as evident of his very strong numbers the last couple seasons. Though "Make stuff happen" is a little vague, it is true. He has shown unbelievable athleticism in the last seven years.
2 Russell Westbrook
I find Westbrook to be the most athletic player in all of the NBA. He has a great wingspan for someone his size and continues to be a threat offensively and defensively. I think Westbrook would beat Durant in various ways. He is quicker and would be able to drive on Durant, but he also is a menace on defense. Durant obviously has a size advantage, but Westbrook is very agile from the perimeter. Size will surely be a factor in this game, but not a major one in my opinion.
The 6-foot-3 guard would overpower Durant because of shear athleticism. Also, though this is a little biased, I think Westbrook has more drive in him. In many ways, Russell shows himself to be a more passionate basketball player than Kevin Durant. Currently taking in nearly $27 million, Westbrook is now the centerpiece of the Oklahoma City offense in the absence of KD.
1 LeBron James
In my book, LeBron is the most talented basketball player of all time. Many people will disagree with me on this for many reasons. Some are very emotionally attached to Michael Jordan and the legacy he left on the NBA. Also, many NBA fans are attached to the idea of a former player being the greatest; nostalgia trumps current situations. LeBron showed his dominance in the NBA Finals last season. Along with Kyrie Irving, James took over the series. I think James would beat Durant from the post and from overpowering Durant.
I think he is a better defender than KD and has more of an ability to overpower him down low. LeBron is probably MVP this season and has a good shot of winning the championship this season. Durant is a top tier NBA player, but LeBron has attributes I find more appealing defensively and offensively to beat him in one-on-one action.