Paul Pierce on Kevin Durant: ‘He may be the best player in the world today’

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No matter who wins MVP, a regular-season award, this has been the time of year LeBron James proves he’s actually the best player in the world.

He was the best player in four, maybe five, of the last NBA Finals. He deservedly won Finals MVP in 2012, 2013 and 2016. He should have won in 2015 over Andre Iguodala despite playing for the losing Cavaliers. And LeBron was a step ahead of Finals MVP for most of the 2014 series until Leonard maybe overtook him late.

But these Finals have been different through two games. LeBron has excelled. Kevin Durant has played even better, leading the Warriors to a 2-0 lead.

That led to a bold statement from Paul Pierce, analyzing the game for ESPN. Pierce on Durant:

He may be the best player in the world today.

Pierce just slighting an old rival? Perhaps. But this is also a surprisingly fair claim.

The question at hand: If you could have only one, LeBron or Durant, for tonight’s Game 3, whom would you want on your team?

LeBron has proven himself the better player over the last several years, but he looks run down. Durant is fully locked in and appears to have no shortage of energy.

In simplest terms: Durant has outplayed LeBron in the Finals’ first two games.

But that doesn’t necessarily predict future results. Just because Durant outplayed LeBron in Games 1 and 2 doesn’t mean Durant will outplay LeBron in Game 3 and beyond. The larger sample, which favors LeBron, might hold more predictive power.

And Durant benefits from playing with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. The game is easier for Durant than LeBron right now.

So back to the original question: If you could have only one, LeBron or Durant, for tonight’s Game 3, whom would you want on your team?

I don’t know – an uncertainty that shows how much trouble Cleveland is in.