Projecting 2017 Legacy Impact of NBA Superstars LeBron, Curry & Kawhi

Lebron James Stephen Curry nba conference finals 2017

Projecting 2017 Legacy Impact of NBA Superstars LeBron, Curry & Kawhi

The 2017 NBA Conference Finals have kicked off, bringing basketball fans one step closer to season’s end. With the close of each basketball season comes the annual legacy updating for league superstars. When a top player wins a NBA title and/or Finals MVP award, it significantly boosts a player’s standing among history’s greats. The same happens when the All-NBA teams and seasonal awards are given out.

The 2017 winners of various NBA honors will significantly boost their career resumes. These include the following:

  • NBA Champion
  • Most Valuable Player
  • Finals Most Valuable Player
  • All-NBA selection (1st, 2nd or 3rd Team)
  • All-Defense selection (1st or 2nd Team)
  • Defensive Player of the Year

Why not go ahead and project how the remaining contending superstars will fare come season’s end?

Lebron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard are the remaining “superstars” in this year’s NBA playoffs. With their championship and seasonal rewarding up for grabs, I present to you a projection illustrating how each player’s legacy will change by season’s end.

Current Career Standings of James, Curry, Durant and Leonard

Before projecting ahead, I will state where each of these player resumes stands historically. See below for a data visualization of their career accolades and achievements:



Projecting Ahead: What Will Each Player Gain From 2017 Season?

Each of these players will boost their career resume in some aspect upon the conclusion of the 2017 NBA season. All four players have already added an All-Star appearance, but there is more valuable hardware left up for grabs. Whether it be a championship, a Finals MVP trophy or an All-NBA nod, each is important in continuing the narrative of each player’s career.

Who has the most to gain from this season? Let’s sort this out below by listing out possible 2017 honors for each player:


lebron james 2017 nba

LeBron James

Probable: 1st-Team All-NBA

Up For Grabs: His 4th NBA Title & 4th Finals MVP

Possible BLING Impact: + 3 (one All-NBA, one title & one season award)




kawhi leonard 2017 nba

Kawhi Leonard

Probable: 1st-Team All-NBA & 1st-Team All-Defense

Up For Grabs: His 2nd NBA Title & 2nd Finals MVP

Possible BLING Impact: + 4 (two All-NBA’s, one title & one season award)



stephen curry 2017 nba


Stephen Curry

Probable: 2nd-Team All-NBA

Up For Grabs: His 2nd NBA Title & 1st Finals MVP

Possible BLING Impact: + 3 (one All-NBA, one title & one season award)



kevin durant 2017 nba

Kevin Durant

Probable: 2nd- or 3rd-Team All-NBA

Possible: His 1st NBA Title & 1st Finals MVP

Possible BLING Impact: +3 (one All-NBA, one title & one season award)



LeBron James would cement his “Top 5” all-time status with another title. Kawhi Leonard could begin crafting his own legacy beyond Tim Duncan’s shadow. Stephen Curry would ascend the all-time point guard ranks with a second ring. Kevin Durant would ensure his legacy doesn’t follow the likes of Karl Malone and Charles Barkley by going “ringless.” So much is at stake!

I am impatient when it comes to gazing into the crystal ball. I want to know their future legacies now! Through the power of data visualization, we can do that.


Projection: LeBron James’ Legacy After 2017 Season

In the following visualization, I compare “The King” versus two historical players and one recent contemporary. My choices were:

  • Historical – Michael Jordan (Who is the GOAT?)
  • Historical – Larry Bird (Who is the best small forward ever?)
  • Modern – Paul Pierce (Contemporary playoff rivals and positional equivalents)

Click through the following 4 tabs for LeBron’s “Stat Story”.


Projection: Kawhi Leonard’s Legacy After 2017 Season

To chart and project for “The Claw”, I compare Leonard versus two historical players and one recent contemporary. My choices were:

  • Historical – Tim Duncan (Standard-setter for two-player success & is the franchise’s best player)
  • Historical – Scottie Pippen (Defensive equivalent at small forward, while Kawhi could surpass him offensively)
  • Modern – Kevin Garnett (Each player has 1 ring and either 1 MVP or Finals MVP; defensive virtuosos)


Projection: Stephen Curry’s Legacy After 2017 Season

While “Chef Curry” gets cookin’ in the playoffs, I wanted to have fun here. So I am comparing Steph versus the following two historical players and one recent contemporary.

  • Historical – Magic Johnson (The best point guard to ever play basketball)
  • Historical – Isiah Thomas (Was the last point guard to lead his team to a NBA title)
  • Modern – Chris Paul (The opposite of Curry: no playoff awards but numerous season accolades in assists and defense)


Projection: Kevin Durant’s Legacy After 2017 Season

Durant is seeking to breakthrough with his first NBA title. Being a 5-time scoring champion, I am comparing him to the following two historical players and one recent contemporary:

  • Historical – Kobe Bryant (As KD morphs into an elite scorer and defender, Bryant is the model blueprint for that)
  • Historical – Allen Iverson (Similar to Durant: 0 rings, 1 MVP, loads of scoring titles)
  • Modern – Dirk Nowitzki (Big men who score! The key difference is that Dirk won a ring as the “lead dog”)


Each remaining NBA superstar has so much at stake in 2017. As a NBA fan, that could not be more exciting! The thrill of the NBA is witnessing history being made. This season is guaranteed to make a significant impact on the legacy of 1-2 of these players. Kawhi Leonard has the most to gain in terms of accolades and BLING points. LeBron James can begin making those “Is he the greatest of all-time?” debates take off like wildfire. As for the Warriors, they can begin what appears to be a lengthy stay atop the league’s throne.

With so much at stake, be sure to tune in! In the meantime, let me know what you think of the stats and charts presented above. This was my first article using Tableau, a data visualization software. It was a blast using this software for content presentation! Going forward, it will be used to significantly reduce article length and improve the reading/charting experience. Be sure to send feedback either on Facebook, on Twitter @PaulAblesCM or on Instagram at ‘curiousmeasures’.

Thank you for reading!

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