Will Kevin Durant ever win a ring?

It's still early, but with LeBron James around, could a title elude him?

Updated: March 11, 2013, 3:02 PM ET
By Neil Paine | Basketball-Reference.com
LeBron James, Kevin DurantNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesWith LeBron James in front of him, is Kevin Durant destined for a career of "bridesmaid" status?

Frequently in this space, I've touched on the relatively deterministic nature of the NBA when compared with the three other major North American sports leagues. Simply put, the high number of possessions and small number of players on the court cause basketball to be the most predictable sport on our landscape. This is why the better team wins any given basketball game with far greater frequency than it does in baseball, football or hockey.

That's especially good news if you're the best player in the NBA, a fact that's been borne out by six decades of pro basketball history. The lineage of the league's best players, from LeBron James backward is filled with superstars who also led their teams to championships, almost single-handedly exerting their influence on the league and bending it to their will.

By contrast, having the best player in baseball or hockey leads to a championship with surprising infrequency, and even the NFL's marquee quarterbacks have a much lower "batting average" in championships won than the NBA's top stars. (For every Tom Brady and Joe Montana, there's a Joe Flacco or an Eli Manning -- and that's not even mentioning the Trent Dilfers or Brad Johnsons of the world.)

All of which brings us to Kevin Durant.

Neil Paine writes for FiveThirtyEight, the data-supported sports, politics and culture site coming soon from ESPN.