Debate: Who is OKC's best player?

Our Insiders argue over whether Durant or Westbrook is the Thunder's true star

Originally Published: January 19, 2011
By Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher | ESPN The Magazine
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook Glenn James/NBAE/Getty ImagesOur Insiders can't agree on which Thunder star, Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook, is the better player.

The only thing Ric Bucher and Chris Broussard like to do more than report on the NBA is argue about the NBA. So we decided to combine those two skills for Insider's weekly One-on-One series, in which they'll debate the hottest topics in the association.

Question: Who is the Oklahoma City Thunder's best player, Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook?

CHRIS BROUSSARD: Ric, you know I respect your basketball knowledge, and that's precisely why I couldn't believe my ears last week when you went on "SportsCenter" and said that Russell Westbrook is better than Kevin Durant!

Westbrook is a very good player, a perennial All-Star talent, but there is no way on God's green earth that he is better than Durant.

Please explain yourself.

RIC BUCHER: My selection of Westbrook over Durant is pretty simple: He is better in more areas of the game than KD is. There's no question Durant is one of the league's premier scorers and shooters -- and, as you know, there's a difference between the two -- and Westbrook certainly doesn't compare to Durant as a shooter and is not quite on his level as a scorer.

But in almost every other aspect of the game, Westbrook is more of a force than Durant. He's certainly a better defender and, at their respective positions, a better rebounder. Is Durant so much better as a shooter/scorer that it compensates for Westbrook's superiority in those other areas? My argument is that he is not. Westbrook certainly has earned that extension he got today.

Ric Bucher

NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer