Paul George Thinks He Would Beat Kevin Durant in Game of 1-on-1

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2013

Dec 8, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) handles the ball against Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George (24) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Paul George has Kevin Durant beat—hypothetically speaking.

NBATV has been running a series of hypothetical one-on-one matchups to start the season where fans are allowed to vote for which player they think will win. The latest clash is between George and Durant, and according to The Oklahoman's Anthony Slater, the Durantula emerged victorious in overwhelming fashion:

The current showdown: Kevin Durant vs. Paul George. The in-progress fan results: Durant 66 percent to George's 34 percent.

“One-on-one, that's what I do, that's what I grew up on,” Durant said when asked of the hypothetical matchup. “That's how I kinda molded my game. So I feel as though he is one of the top one-on-one players and I am one of the top, as well. It'd be a good matchup. I won't say who'd win, but it'd be a good matchup.”

The continuously confident George disagreed.

"What am I going to do? Beat him," George said, via Slater. "I think it would be tougher for him one-on-one. When we play them, he does a lot of movement, so I think it would be a pretty even match."

There goes George, rambling on about KD's movement again. Only this time, Durant's movements are hurting his case.

Speaking with reporters after the Indiana Pacers' 118-94 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, George called Durant the toughest cover in the league, per's Scott Agness:

It is. It is a tougher matchup. I watch their games, I watch a lot of NBA games. And offensively, KD is most of the times he’s scoring in bunches off of iso plays and one-on-one plays.

And when they play against us, he’s moving a lot. He’s the screener, he’s getting back-screened and he’s coming off pin-downs and it’s a little different when I’m guarding him and it makes it a tougher cover.

That doesn't mean George cannot handle Durant. One-on-one matchups are different from everyday play, but whether it's one-on-one or five-on-five, George is one of the league's top defenders. His 94 defensive rating ranks fourth in the NBA, indicating Durant would have his hands full. 

This guy George is pretty talented offensively, too. 

Let's actually take a quick look at how his stats compare to Durant's this season:

Paul George vs. Kevin Durant
PlayerPPGFG%3P%STLSPEROff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.
Via Basketball-Reference.

Clearly, there's a case to be made for George. Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal has already made it, writing that he would rather build a franchise around George because he'll "take the extra youth, two-way play and incredible defensive ability any day of the week." Tough to argue with him there.

George, the reigning Most Improved Player, has burst onto the scene this season. Not just as a good player, but as a superstar. A top-10 superstar. The best player on what is currently the NBA's best team. That matters.

But let's not forget about Durant, who is often considered the second-best player in the Association, behind only LeBron James. That matters, too.

Durant is a terrific one-on-one scorer and his game is seemingly made for moments like these. He dropped 36 points in Oklahoma City's victory over Indiana, and according to Synergy Sports (subscription required), he ranks 17th in points scored per possession (0.98) in isolation. Doesn't get much better than that—unless you're George, who ranks seventh (1.08).

Current stats, coalesced with our imagination, cannot predict a winner. This is all hypothetical and subjective at this point.

What this discussion has done is prove Durant absolutely right—if these two ever squared off, it would make for one helluva one-on-one matchup. 


*Stats were compiled courtesy of Basketball-Reference and Synergy Sports (subscription required) unless otherwise noted.