This week, Hoops Hype came out with its rankings of the best small forwards in the NBA, and the list was a bit controversial for some people.
Never mind the fact that Tatum still has a way to go before he can honestly be called the best small forward in basketball – Durant was disrespected.
Perhaps an argument could be made that LeBron James is still better than him, but not Tatum – not at all.
Could Their First-Round Matchup Be The Reason For This Ranking?
Due to an injury to Durant and Kyrie Irving‘s refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the Nets struggled throughout the regular season, as they never quite developed any real chemistry.
As a result, they finished just 44-38, which was seventh in the Eastern Conference and required them to go through the play-in tournament just to reach the playoffs, which was a far cry from where they were expected to be.
Brooklyn then got swept in the first round of the postseason by the red-hot Celtics, and Durant played some of the worst ball of his career.
He shot just 38.6 percent from the field, and Tatum and crew made him look old and washed throughout the series.
Kevin Durant's 4-game 1st round vs. the Boston Celtics : 26.3 points on 38.6% shooting, 33% from 3, 89.5% from the FT line, 5.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists & 5.3 turnovers in 44 minutes (Lowest PPG & FG percentage in a playoff series since 2010. 1st time he's been swept in his career) pic.twitter.com/FJqP9EXrzx
— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) April 26, 2022
Tatum, meanwhile, put up 29.5 points and 7.3 assists as the Celtics took their first step towards an NBA Finals appearance.
For the entire postseason, he averaged 25.6 points and 6.2 assists a game, but he shot just 42.6 percent from the field.
There is no sound or logical argument that Tatum is a better player than Durant.
Tatum Is Not A Full-Fledged Superstar Yet
To be clear, Tatum is an extremely good player, and at age 24, he can still get better.
But he hasn’t yet achieved the consistency needed to be called a true superstar, especially when it comes to his efficiency.
One thing that defines truly great players is putting together strings of great or dominant performances, and Tatum hasn’t done so yet.
During the NBA Finals, he had just one game in which he shot over 43 percent, and he shot under 40 percent in four of the six contests, including a 3-of-17 clunker in Game 1.
Many will want to dismiss those numbers since it was his first appearance in a championship series, but that is merely an excuse when talking about the standards of true greatness.
Durant Is Still Arguably The Best In The Game
He is coming off a season in which he averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game while shooting 51.8 percent overall and 38.3 percent from downtown.
Even as he nears his 34th birthday, he is seemingly not showing any signs of age or any ill effects from his Achilles injury in 2019.
🎯 29.9 PPG
🎯 7.4 RPG
🎯 6.4 APG
🎯 51.8% FG
🎯 91% FT
🎯 50.28 FPTS
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) August 4, 2022
He is still about as smooth as he’s ever been, whether he’s attacking the basket, stopping on a dime for a mid-range jumper, or hitting from beyond the arc.