Thursday, 31 January 2008

Is Michael Beasley better than Kevin Durant?

After Kevin Durant rampaged through the Big 12 as a freshman, most people (myself included) assumed that we probably wouldn't be seeing anything like that again for a while. But it is possible that we are seeing something even better just one year later? Is Michael Beasley better than Kevin Durant was?

Looking at the sheer numbers, it's a tough call. Durant averaged 25.8 PPG and 11.1 RPG last year as a freshman, numbers that were difficult for me to comprehend. Well, though he still has a ways to go before this season is over, Beasley has nearly identical numbers - 25.3 PPG and 12.4 RPG.

Looking more closely, one thing jumps out at me - Beasley is a much more efficient scorer. Kevin Durant could score in basically every way imaginable, but the percentages give the edge to Beasley. Durant shot 47.2% from the field, 40.4% from the 3-point line, and 81.6% from the FT line. Michael Beasley is shooting 56.2% from the field, 43.5% from downtown, and 74% from the stripe. Edge goes to Durant at the FT line, but there's a large edge for Beasley in the other areas.

Next, I think Beasley is a better rebounder than Durant. The numbers say things are close... Beasley averages about 1.3 more rebounds per game than Durant did last year. However, I think Durant relied a lot more on his wingspan and athleticism to grab rebounds, which isn't really treating him so well at the next level. On the contrary, Beasley has incredible instincts, quickness, and positioning when rebounding. I think this will cause him to be a better rebounder at the next level than Durant.

Defensively, I give the edge to Durant. The freakish wingspan that helped him be such a good rebounder also helps him defensively. He is able to get in the passing lane, and block more shots. Beasley is a solid defender with his athleticism, but I think Durant has more potential in that area.

All in all, it's great to be able to see such talented players, both of whom put (and are putting) up absurd numbers in the Big 12 as freshmen. Who will be better in the long run? I'm not sure. But looking at the numbers and looking at their games, I think Michael Beasley has been the superior college player so far. Let's see if he can lead Kansas St. further than the Longhorns got last March.

Your thoughts? Who is better?