Head to Head: Carmelo Anthony vs. Kevin Durant

Naim KalajiContributor IIJune 20, 2010

Today’s head-to-head battle compares two of the top small-forwards in the NBA today: Denver star Carmelo Anthony, and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant.

Below are the seven criteria used to compare the two players. The player with an advantage in the majority of the seven categories will win the head-to-head.

  • 1. Scoring
  • 2. Mid-range and three-point shooting
  • 3. Rebounding
  • 4. Defense
  • 5. Strength
  • 6. Speed and agility
  • 7. Clutch


Carmelo Anthony is a prime-time scorer. Despite cooling down as the regular season went on, Anthony still managed to average a terrific 28.2 PPG. Carmelo can score the ball in so many ways. Fifteen foot pull-up jump shot? Not a problem. He can also hit the three-pointer.

In addition, Anthony is able to use his bull-size frame to post-up smaller defenders, and therefore is able to score a lot of points near the basket.

When you win the 2010 NBA scoring title, surely that means you’re the best scorer. Obviously. That’s exactly what Kevin Durant did, averaging 30.1 PPG, outpacing LeBron James towards the end of the season.

Durant has a deadly jumper, and unlimited range. He’s a great shooter but can also use his length to work inside. His slight body frame means he is ineffective down low, compared to Anthony. Nevertheless, he can score using his speed in a way that Carmelo can’t.

Winner: Kevin Durant

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Mid-Range and Three-Point Shooting

For the season, Anthony shot 46 percent from the field. He’s a very accurate shooter, yet he could shoot at a much higher percentage if he didn’t take so many tough shots from time to time.

From three-point range, Carmelo shot a dire 32 percent. That’s one weakness in his ability to score the basketball. Although he can hit the three, it is hardly a weapon of his. Funny enough, that is still an upgrade from the 30 percent he’s been shooting for his career from the great beyond. His favourite and most effective shot is undoubtedly from mid-range.

Durant shoots at an impressive 48 percent from the field. He is the definition of a rhythm shooter. When he’s hot, he’s practically unstoppable. Sometimes however, he has the tendency to fire a lot of shots from further than 16 feet which makes it difficult for him to score, especially when he’s missing them.

Durant shoots 37 percent from three-point range, which is neither bad nor good. Unlike Carmelo however, Durant is not one to be left alone from three-point range, even as far as 30+ feet out. He has unlimited range, meaning he can score from anywhere.

Winner: Kevin Durant


Carmelo Anthony pulled down 6.6 RPG on average throughout the 82 games of the regular season. For a small-forward, that’s a pretty good figure. In addition, he’ll leave a lot of rebounds to his big men Nene and Kenyon Martin. Anthony has proved he can rebound when he needs to, getting a career-high 19 boards in a game this season.

What’s more impressive is that he averages over two offensive rebounds a game. A mixture of savvy and strength enables Carmelo to get superior positioning over a defender, and he is then able to pull down rebounds, then use his strength to get back up and put the ball in the hoop.

Kevin Durant averages a rebound more than Anthony (7.6 RPG). More often than not, he only has to rely on his incredible wing span. His length proves to be an advantage for rebounding. Durant get’s two more defensive rebounds than Carmelo, but one less offensive rebound.

It must be noted that Durant has an advantage in the fact that he is statistically superior to Carmelo in rebounding because his two big men in, Green and Krstic, aren’t the greatest rebounders; certainly no Kenyon Martin or Nene when it comes down to pulling down boards.

Winner: Neither


There was once a time where Carmelo probably couldn’t even pronounce defense. It was practically non-existent. There is no doubt nowadays that he’s gone some way into rectifying that issue. As mentioned previously, Carmelo pulls down 6.6 RPG, 4.4 on the defensive end. He averages 1.3 SPG, but he only gets 0.43 BPG.

Furthermore, Carmelo Anthony falls into frequent foul trouble, picking up 3.3 fouls every game; and this was evident in this year’s playoff series against the Utah Jazz. Carmelo still has a way to go defensively. His lateral quickness needs working on, but he uses his strength and size to keep players in front of him.

Kevin Durant defends in a different way than Carmelo Anthony. With such a slender body frame, Durant would find it harder to use his strength to hold back offensive players. Instead, he relies on length and great lateral quickness to keep up with a player.

In terms of statistics, Durant pulls down 6.3 defensive RPG. He averages similar steal figures to Carmelo (1.4 SPG), but he also gets blocks (1.02 BPG) largely due to his length. Durant has proved to be a very good defender on a team full of defensive talent. Durant only receives a shade over two fouls a game.

Winner: Kevin Durant


Carmelo Anthony is a very powerful player. He has great body strength, useful for defending, posting-up, rebounding, taking contact and finishing. He uses his strength to his advantage by attacking the rim, but he could do it more frequently.

Kevin Durant is definitely no Carmelo Anthony in the strength department. With a twig-like figure in relation to the bull-like strength of Anthony, Durant can seldom use what strength he has in the same ways as Carmelo. Although Kevin is deceptively strong, he isn’t as strong as Carmelo.

Winner: Carmelo Anthony

Speed and Agility

Carmelo Anthony has cat-like quickness, which is very beneficial at the small-forward position. With many of the small-forwards being slightly slower and less explosive players, Carmelo is able to exploit them with his speed. His best speed attribute is his super quick first step, which allows him to get to the rim with velocity.

Kevin Durant is no stranger to speed. He’s one of the quickest baseline-to-baseline players in the NBA. He can glide down the court at deadly speeds. He has good lateral quickness as well. He uses his speed to blow by his defenders and finish with rim-rattling dunks.

Winner: Kevin Durant


Carmelo has already hit 13 game winners in his career. That’s right, 13. He’s only 26-years-old. In the Nuggets' team, the ball will either fall into the hands of Chauncey Billups or Carmelo Anthony. It’s safe to say that Carmelo is not fearful of the late-game situation.

Just ask LeBron James, who helplessly watched Anthony’s sweet jumper tear the net. Or how about the whole Toronto Raptors' team, who flung their arms in an attempt to stop the inevitable: another Carmelo Anthony crowd-silencing game winner. Better yet? Ask Kevin Durant, who hit what surely was going to be the game winner against Denver. But, with 2.7 seconds left, Anthony hit a tough turnaround three-pointer in Durant’s face at the buzzer.

Carmelo knows when and how to make the shots that really matter. With the exception of Kobe Bryant, there isn’t a player who produces clutch shots more consistently than Carmelo Anthony.

Kevin Durant is only 21-years-old. He’s still a baby in NBA terms. Still, his Thunder team rely on the rising star to hit the big shots in late-game situations. Durant is clutch, and has hit a few game winners of his own. However, he needs to be a lot more clutch, and he needs to hit a lot more game-winners before he can be considered as ice-cold as Anthony is.

As painful as it may be, it might be worth Durant watching a replay of the 2008-2009 Thunder-Nuggets match, so that he learns how to get revenge on Carmelo for hitting a game winner in his grill.

Winner: Carmelo Anthony


Carmelo Anthony 2-4 Kevin Durant

While Carmelo Anthony is the more-refined offensive player, Kevin Durant is the more potent offensive player. Durant is also a better defensive player.

Carmelo also has a greater supporting cast than Durant does, but still Durant manages to lead his young Oklahoma City team to new heights.

Carmelo Anthony impressively carried his Nuggets' team to the Western Conference Finals in 2009, only to lose in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers. This year, Anthony and Durant (who made his first time playoff appearance), failed to get their teams out of the first-round, losing to the Jazz and Lakers respectively.

Finally, it is worth noting that Durant is five years younger, which means he has a much brighter future. Forget the future, I believe Durant is already better.

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