We are now half way through the NBA season and Kevin Durant has officially gone insane. On Wednesday night, Durant scored 36 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished out 5 assists during the Thunders 111-105 win against the San Antonio Spurs. At this point in the season one thing is certain; Kevin Durant is the NBA MVP.
Lets begin with the individual numbers. Durant is averaging 30.9 points a game. In addition, he scored 30 points or more in 9 straight games and 10-11. Not only is that a career high for the Texas Longhorn, but also it is staggering in its own right.
The last player to average those many points was Kobe Bryant in 2005-2006. However, there is a stark contrast between the two all stars. During Kobe’s career year, the Lakers went 42-40. So far this season, the Thunder are 33-10. Furthermore, that 33-10 is without the teams other All Star, Russell Westbrook. Despite this significant loss, Durant has been able to step up and lead the team.
Next comes the improvement to his individual game. Everyone knows that Durant can score. The 2nd overall pick in the 2007 draft has won three NBA scoring titles. Yet, he has improved his game in many other ways as well. The small forward is averaging a career high 5.1 assists per game. He’s become a facilitator, willing to pass up the open shot in order to give the team the best opportunity to score.
His shot selection has also improved impressively. Durant is averaging a career high field goal percentage of .504. Even more astounding, during his scoring streak, the 7th year player is averaging .524% from the field. Durant has not only been scoring more, he’s been scoring smarter.
Lastly, lets look at who his other competition is. Off the bat, the obvious contender is reigning MVP LeBron James. While James is having a historical year in his own right, shooting nearly 60% from the field, he is not more valuable to his team in comparison to Durant. Even without Dwayne Wade, the Miami Heat still have Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, and Chris Andersen. Other than Durant and Serge Ibaka, the Thunder have a whole lot of nothing. Furthermore, despite a 30-12 record, the Heat have struggled mightily as of late. When Russell Westbrook went down, Oklahoma City never lost a beat. That is a testament to have valuable Durant is.
Other players who will be on the ballot come voting time will be Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, Pacers small forward Paul George, and Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. All of these players have something in common (other than there teams winning ways). These players are all on stacked rosters. In particular, Golden State has Klay Thompson, Andre Igoudala , David Lee, and Andrew Bogut. A team like that better is in a title chase. Indiana and Portland are both built in a similar way. Kevin Durant has taken a group of players with less talent than all the aforementioned teams and turned them into the best in the west.
There is no argument at this point. With the numbers he is putting up and the success of his team, Kevin Durant is the MVP. When your bench consists of Perry Jones, Steven Adams, Derek Fisher, and your team is 33-10, all credit is due to the leader.