Is the best player in the NBA title between Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant?

By Sports Desk May 13, 2019

Kawhi Leonard's performances in the NBA playoffs this season, as well as the solid ones in the pre-season, have begged the question about whether or not he is the best player in the NBA. A certain Kevin Durant comes up for mention as well. The zone team looks at these two phenomenal basketball players.

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  • Simmons injured in 76ers loss, Heat honour retired Wade Simmons injured in 76ers loss, Heat honour retired Wade

    The Philadelphia 76ers lost Ben Simmons to injury in another NBA road defeat on Saturday, while the Miami Heat paid tribute to Dwyane Wade.

    Simmons left a 119-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first quarter after aggravating an existing back problem and will reportedly undergo an MRI on Sunday.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo relished his fellow All-Star's absence, putting up 31 points and 17 rebounds in a double-double that condemned Philadelphia to a sixth successive away loss.

    The 76ers (35-22) sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, one place behind the Heat (36-20) following their 124-105 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    The win added to a memorable occasion as Miami welcomed former favourite Wade back to AmericanAirlines Arena, officially retiring the number three jersey he wore during the team's NBA championships in 2006, 2012 and 2013.

    Wade, 38, retired at the end of last season after returning to the Heat for his career swansong.

     

    Harden hot in valuable Houston victory

    James Harden hit a game-high 38 points while Russell Westbrook went 14-of-26 for 34 points as the Houston Rockets topped the Utah Jazz 120-110.

    The Jazz struggled to handle Houston's small-ball approach and are now level with the Rockets at 36-20.

    Kawhi Leonard tallied 31 points and eight rebounds but the Los Angeles Clippers lost for the third time in as many games, going down to the Sacramento Kings 112-103.

    Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks overcame a nine-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-107.

    Trae Young and John Collins each recorded double-doubles to inspire the Hawks to their 17th win of a lean campaign.

     

    Kawhi a lone performer for cold Clippers

    Leonard did his part against the Kings at Staples Center but the reigning MVP had little help from his fellow Clippers starters, all of whom failed to reach double figures for points.

    Reggie Jackson and Landry Shamet were particularly culpable, the pair making just three of their combined 12 three-point attempts.

     

    Bam drops the hammer

    Fresh from winning the Skills Challenge on NBA All-Star Weekend, Heat big man Bam Adebayo put on another show with a huge dunk against the Cavaliers.

     

    Saturday's results

    Sacramento Kings 112-103 Los Angeles Clippers
    Brooklyn Nets 115-86 Charlotte Hornets
    Atlanta Hawks 111-107 Dallas Mavericks
    Miami Heat 124-105 Cleveland Cavaliers
    Phoenix Suns 112-104 Chicago Bulls
    Milwaukee Bucks 119-98 Philadelphia 76ers
    Houston Rockets 120-110 Utah Jazz

     

    Celtics at Lakers

    LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers entertain Jayson Tatum's Boston Celtics in the pick of Sunday's seven games.

  • Zion Williamson still learning a month into NBA career but already getting 'vet calls' Zion Williamson still learning a month into NBA career but already getting 'vet calls'

    Zion Williamson recognises he still has a lot to learn a month into his NBA career, although his New Orleans Pelicans team-mates claim the rookie is already getting "vet calls".

    The number one overall draft pick made his long-awaited league debut in a defeat to the San Antonio Spurs on January 22 after recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.

    Williamson played his 11th game on Friday, and a 128-115 win over the Portland Trail Blazers moved the Pelicans to within four games of the playoffs in the Western Conference.

    The 19-year-old is averaging 22.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, and he was typically influential again in a 25-point display.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, Williamson insisted he is far from the finished product and does not expect to fulfil his immense potential until "year four or five".

    However, having visited the free-throw line 10 times against the Trail Blazers, shooting 50 per cent, Williamson's team-mates are mocking his early ability to draw fouls.

    "I'm learning the pace, when to do things, when not to do things," he said. "I'm starting to get my legs back under me a little bit, I'm learning my team-mates, just the travel.

    "Even though I'm a rookie and people think that I'm doing good, there's so much that I have to learn.

    "I'm always learning something new from JJ [Redick], E'Twaun [Moore], Jrue [Holiday], Zo [Lonzo Ball], Derrick Favors, so much about the game. There are small things that I'm learning.

    "By year four or five, I feel like I'm going to have all of them down.

    "I think I am starting to get a little bit comfortable - I'm not saying a lot [more comfortable] because it's only 11 games. I've got a lot to learn, but I'm ready for the journey."

    On the foul calls, Williamson added: "I think I just draw a lot of fouls. My team-mates joke with me and say I get 'vet calls'. I don't know about that yet.

    "But when we get to the free-throw line, it's one thing to get there but we just have to knock them down."

    Portland are one of the teams standing between 11th-placed New Orleans and a playoff berth in the top eight, and Williamson acknowledges there is little room for error for his team.

    "Honestly, for us, at this point, I think every game is important," he said. "It's really like a college season at this point now - every game matters. If we take a loss, it's a big loss, a tough loss for us.

    "So we need to come into every game ready to play, ready to lock in, we can't have any slow starts. And if we do, we can't dig ourselves into a big hole."

  • LeBron's approach to playoff run not changing despite Anthony Davis help LeBron's approach to playoff run not changing despite Anthony Davis help

    LeBron James lauded Anthony Davis again after the Los Angeles Lakers' latest win but insisted his team-mate is "on a nice list of great players I've played with" and his own approach over the coming months will not change as a result.

    The Lakers, who reportedly intend to waive injured center DeMarcus Cousins and sign Markieff Morris, a free agent after his Detroit Pistons buyout, beat the Memphis Grizzlies 117-105 on Friday.

    James scored 32 points, while Davis had an outstanding 28 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks for the 42-12 Western Conference leaders.

    Four-time MVP James has carried the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lakers in the past, but Davis - deserving of the Defensive Player of the Year Award, held by Rudy Gobert, according to his team-mate - is sharing the load.

    That does not change the veteran's mentality in the closing months of the season, though, as he looks to do whatever is necessary for the team.

    "I never really looked at it like that. It's always been a team game," James told reporters. "I've never looked at it like I need to put a whole franchise, a whole team on my back.

    "I need to do my job. If I do my job then we put ourselves in a position to be successful, and I'm going to have to do that again this year.

    "AD's on a nice list of great players I've played with. But nothing changes for me in my preparation, the way I go out and approach the game, nothing changes."

    He added on Davis: "He does everything. He's able to protect the rim, he's able to guard on the post, he's able to switch out on guards, he's able to block shots, get steals. He does everything defensively for us.

    "That's why he's Defensive Player of the Year. He does everything. There's not one thing he doesn't do well defensively."

    Davis had to step out of the game for a spell due to a bruised calf but returned in style.

    "I just felt like I was able to get back on the floor and play," he said. "The leg felt good enough for me to go out and give it a try.

    "I was just trying to stay loose and stay warm so it won't tighten back up. I just want to be on the floor to help the guys."

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