Durant the MVP pick — and not an easy one

Making the case for LeBron James or Kevin Durant as the 2013-14 MVP equates to an exercise in futility, sort of like trying to guard either one of them.

It isn’t that there’s a lack of evidence — statistical or otherwise — for one to cite as proof that LeBron or KD was the best, most valuable player in the NBA this season. There is ample proof on either side. The problem is, whichever one you choose, there’s an equally impressive array or tangibles and intangibles to make just as strong a case for the other.

If you cite Durant’s streak of 41 consecutive 25-point games, his 4.6-point margin over Carmelo Anthony in securing his fourth scoring title, all you get is a sound rebuttal citing James’ 61-point game against defensively respectable Charlotte in March and his elite defensive ability and versatility, which routinely gets overlooked and taken for granted when it comes time to dole out regular season awards. (Guilty as charged.)

In the end, sometimes we complicate these awards picks more than we need to. Choosing James or Durant for MVP doesn’t diminish the overall body of work on either side. It’s simply a question of who had the best year. With Durant’s historic assault on the record books and the hapless competition, it’s difficult to argue that he shouldn’t get the nod this time.

If you focus on James’ all-around greatness in carrying the two-time defending champions to the brink of nabbing the No. 1 seed in the face of three-peat fatigue and the absence of running mate Dwyane Wade for more than a third of the season, what does that get you? Only a strong counter-argument from the Durant camp citing the fact that the Thunder wound up with the same No. 2 seed in the West and were without Russell Westbrook for eight more games than the Heat were without Wade.

Durant is only the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists, joining Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. The fact that his production skyrocketed — and the Thunder’s performance didn’t wane — with Westbrook out of the lineup isn’t an indictment, but rather a boon to his MVP case.

Behind Durant’s brilliance, the Thunder didn’t quite catch the Spurs for the No. 1 seed in the West, but they surely handled San Antonio with a 4-0 regular season sweep that will make their potential meeting in the conference finals all the more intriguing.

So I’m going with Durant this time. If you’ve got LeBron? I won’t argue with you. It’s that close, and likely will be for years to come between these two. Here’s how I voted.

2014-04-18

Kevin Durant Dreaming About Championships And Journey To MVP

Kevin Durant has finished second for the NBA’s most valuable player award the last two seasons and in 2012 the Thunder lost out to the Miami Heat in the NBA finals.

With the Thunder set to play their final regular season game on, Wednesday, April 16 talk of both championships and the MVP award are surrounding Kevin Durant again.

KD is considered by many fans and media members to be the front runner for the NBA’s top player award.

Through April, Durant has won the NBA’s player of the month award four times in five months and currently leads the league in scoring, averaging almost 32 points a game.

Championships have also been just out of reach for the former Texas Longhorn, Oklahoma City has won four straight division titles and a conference title in 2012, but KD and his teammates have yet to win a NBA title.

Watch above as KD talks about winning a NBA title and on his journey to a possible MVP award.

2014-04-17

Kevin Durant Under Serious Pressure to Deliver Big in 2014 NBA Playoffs

Joining the company of LeBron James isn’t all NBA MVP awards, statistical preeminence, ironic nicknames and exposure to free-thinking misanthropes who secretly wish they were you.

Make note, Kevin Durant.

Nearly seven years into his career, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar is gearing up for his most important playoff campaign ever, reaching a crossroads that was both inevitable and fueled in part by him pirating much of King James’ spotlight.

When the regular season concludes, Durant’s run of finishing second will end with it. He’s going to be named this year’s league MVP. The decision isn’t even difficult anymore.

Durant is your league MVP. He is the closest thing to a peer James has. He has the makings of a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. And for the first time in roughly seven years, it’s become clear he needs to become subject to the same pressure and inescapable expectations that come with said territory.

To this point, Durant has spent most of his career lurking behind James—not in the shadows, but emitting light regularly eclipsed by James’ lucent performances and postseason accolades. Visibly frustrated, Durant has never attempted to suppress his displeasure or deny such an inferiority complex exists.

In a way, it’s a compliment, a backhanded form of praise.

Criticizing Durant is viewed as sacrilegious, an insult to one of the NBA’s greatest powers. Yet shouldn’t we expect more from Durant, especially now, after what he’s done ahead of the playoffs?

Nothing less.

If he is whom he is, in fact, made out to be, he will be doubted or touted according to his playoff result, exposed to the same backbreaking standards James has always been.

If he’s not, if his postseason end fails to move the needle in the direction of impatience or long-awaited satisfaction, then it says just as much.

But nothing good.

2014-04-16

Kevin Durant Front Runner for MVP Award

With a league leading 34.5 points per game, Kevin Durant has been the front-runner for the MVP award. While Lebron James is a close second with his unbelievable performance this season, Durant has proven once again why Oklahoma City is heavily dependent on the 25-year-old forward.

At six-feet nine, Kevin Durant is a little under weight at 240 pounds. Although this has not affected his scoring ability, Durant would benefit from gaining a little more weight to create a bigger presence. Still, his seven-feet, four-inch wingspan creates many shots for the young forward, making him one of the toughest players to guard in the league. Winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2008, Durant has since became a dominate force and a scoring machine. While he did come in second place three times for the MVP Award, Durant is the hands on favorite to win the award for his performance this season.

Kevin Durant consistently ranks as one of the leaders in points around the league. With an amazing mid range and outside jumper, Durant is one of only six players in history to join the 50-40-90 club. Durant also has 12 straight games with over 30-plus points in scoring, including a career high 54 points against the Golden State Warriors. Kevin Durant also surpassed Michael Jordan’s record for most consecutive games with a minimum scoring of 25 points in 41 games. With a career .480 field goal percentage, Durant has one of the most accurate shots in the league.

Oklahoma City has benefited from Durant and his play making abilities. While point guard Russell Westbrook was out from an arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, Kevin Durant was able to take over as the full fledge leader and take the team to a 2nd playoff seed in a very hectic western conference. While the San Antonio Spurs remain to be on top of the west, Oklahoma City is still one of the heavy favorites by many to win the NBA championship. Durant is the main reason for the team’s success for this will be the fifth year in a row the Thunder enter the NBA playoffs.

Although Kevin Durant never won the NBA MVP award, he is currently the front-runner for the award. Durant is no stranger to notable records and honors. Durant was selected to the NBA All-Star team five times in his career. Not only did Durant also win the scoring title three times with an assumed fourth this season.

While Lebron James and the Miami Heat have been playing lights out, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder have remain one of the teams to beat this post season. The NBA Finals is the goal for all thirty teams in the league, and although a MVP trophy would add another achievement in Durant’s basketball career, the one thing he is focused on right now is a championship. Kevin Durant may be the front-runner for the MVP award, but right now the Oklahoma City Thunder are the front-runners for the NBA title.

2014-04-15

OKC’s Kevin Durant should be MVP: NBA Insider

This was Kevin Durant’s year.

Even LeBron James, Durant’s closest competitor, has conceded the NBA MVP Award to Durant this season.

As one of the panel of 129 voters, I wish I could say this was an easy decision. But it was not. None of the awards I voted for had an absolutely, clear-cut winner.

Though I voted for Durant because I thought he was the most valuable player for keeping the Thunder near the top of standings during Russell Westbrook’s knee injuries and subsequent struggles upon his return, I still think James is the best player in the league.

That argument comes up every year in every sport. Last year the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn explained why he was the only person who gave Carmelo Anthony a first-place MVP vote, preventing James from winning unanimously. He used the same rationale I just did in selecting Durant over James.

The one thing that’s different about this year’s voting is that the NBA, at the request of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, of which I am president, has agreed to make public all our voting. I can only speak for myself, but knowing that has made me research a bit longer and harder in case any of my votes is called into question.

2014-04-14

Why Kevin Durant will be the NBA MVP

LeBron James’ place on the Mount Rushmore of MVP winners will have to wait.

Kevin Durant deserves the hardware this time around.

The Oklahoma City Thunder star has been playing the unwelcome part of second-best for quite some time now, his talent universally recognized as transcendent but his accomplishments almost always falling short of the man from Miami. But James, who has won the league’s top individual award in four of the past five seasons and was surely hoping to become just the fourth player in league history to win a fifth, simply couldn’t keep up with Durant this time around.

Durant wins in almost every way when it comes to the latest race for the Maurice Podoloff trophy, from his superior scoring to his vastly-improved all-around game to the part that he played in the Thunder’s defense which is currently the fifth-best in the NBA. Yet the best part of their duel, this season-long square-off that was the most compelling MVP theatre we’ve seen since Magic Johnson & Larry Bird or Michael Jordan & Karl Malone, is the admirable way these two future Hall of Famers go about their business.

The unfair part, the part that made this a two-man race right about the time the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George was fading and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul fell victim to an injury that unofficially ended his chances, is that no one entertains as effortlessly as Durant and James. Durant just did it more often.

Durant had evolved in each of his previous six seasons, but the Swiss-Army-knife element of his game had never been anywhere near as good as this. He’s on pace to set a career high in assists (5.6 compared to James’ 6.5), is second to Anthony among small forwards in rebounding (7.6 per game), and played a major part in the Thunder’s elite defensive showing (they’re fifth in the NBA, while the Heat are 10th). At this rate, he will become just the fourth player in league history to average at least 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo, and Michael Jordan are the others).

Nothing will be official until the votes are tallied, of course. But make no mistake, Durant deserves to be the 2013-14 MVP.

2014-04-11

Kevin Durant Wishes it Was Over

Kevin Durant is one of those players that keep surprising his audience with his abilities, understanding of the game and now his words. KD has currently been on a scoring streak only comparable to Michael Jordan, and Oscar Robinson. As of now, he has completely passed MJ by scoring 25 points or more in 41 consecutive games. Instead of Kevin Durant being elated he said he doesn’t really care, and that he wishes it was over. That reaction might shock some but not people who follow Durant.

KD is not that type of guy who makes a big deal over personal accolades, because he is too much of a team player. The consistent scoring average of 32.1 points per game was not made with the intention of setting a record. He has his laser focus on winning a championship. However, when one performs at the level he does every night scoring titles and records are almost inevitable.

Should Durant wake up and smell the roses, or should he continue on ignoring the hype media hype? He can still be a team player, and appreciate his personal achievements. That does not take away from what he contributes to the Thunder.

On his quest to win a championship, he will undoubtedly be crowned the league’s MVP. It is possible that this scoring streak will nudge him past LeBron James for the title. The question would then be if Durant would wish that away too. With the team at the number two seed in the playoffs, he is ever so close to what matters most. Let’s just hope he does not get stuck in the expectation that comes with surpassing Michael Jordan. Though, Kevin Durant will not admit it there is pressure that comes with being comparable to some of the greats.

Maybe the added pressure that comes with being among the elite three is the very reason Kevin Durant wishes it was over. Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robinson, and Michael Jordan is big shoes to fill. Chamberlain set what seems to be an untouchable scoring streak. He scored 80 games over 25 points consecutively in a single season, and 106 with no single season restriction. Just imagine how much he had to hear about his streak being the first one to do it. However, this was probably nothing new to Wilt The Stilt. After all, he did score 100 points against the Knicks in the same season as the 80 – game streak.

As long as Kevin Durant is playing in the NBA he will be compared to the greats, because he is shaping up to be among them. Going toe-to-toe with MJ for scoring stats, and blowing past his peers for the scoring title further solidifies his greatness. Though he does not wish to own it he is a King among Kings. Therefore, the next time someone brings up his 41 game scoring streak he should take another approach. Perhaps instead of his wishing it was over, maybe Durant could challenge his peers to top it. There is not anything wrong with healthy competition, because that is the true nature of sports.

2014-04-10

Is Kevin Durant the Greatest Perimeter Scorer Since Michael Jordan?

Kevin Durant’s scoring prowess has reached the point where we must wonder whether he is the best wing scorer since Michael Jordan. Durant surpassed Jordan’s streak of 25-point games, which puts him in the discussion of great scorers.

To figure out whom his main competitors are, we will look at perimeter players who have won multiple scoring titles since Jordan played his last game with the Chicago Bulls.

That’s quite an impressive assortment of names, and it’s certainly a testament to Durant’s talent that he is in this discussion.

He will be only 26 years old by the time next season starts, but his youth has not stopped him from making history. Durant has already collected three scoring titles and will add a fourth one at the conclusion of the regular season.

Is that enough to feature him above some of the previously mentioned greats? We will look at how Durant’s offensive repertoire stacks up with his counterparts to determine where he ranks.

Durant’s point production essentially places him in the discussion with Jordan.

To be clear, Jordan is the greatest perimeter scorer in league history.

Durant outpaces His Airness in terms of efficiency, but Jordan scored more points on average. In addition, Jordan adjusted his game as his athleticism diminished over the course of his career.

Durant has not yet had to make such changes to his game, and it’s obviously impossible to determine right now if he will. However, Durant has progressively added moves to his repertoire with each new season, which suggests he should be able to continue evolving as his career progresses.

Durant is on pace to accumulate four scoring titles in his first seven seasons, which isn’t too far off track from Jordan, who collected five in the same time span. Also, if Durant were to average 27 points per game the rest of the way (owns a 27.4 career scoring average), he would surpass Jordan’s career 32,292 points by age 36 roughly.

Durant might never catch Jordan, but the idea that Durant has a shot is indicative of the fact he is the greatest perimeter scorer since Jordan.

2014-04-09

Kevin Durant’s MVP Season Alone Won’t Deliver Title for OKC Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Tuesday night loss to the Dallas Mavericks didn’t change anything in the grand scheme of things, but it serves as a harsh reminder that the coming weeks won’t get any easier for Kevin Durant and Co.

By now we know that Durant is historically good, in a league with a handful of scorers who were all but unguardable. We also know he’ll win the 2013-14 MVP award and deservedly so. Not even LeBron James can snatch this one away.

But we know far less about how KD’s individual performance will translate into collective success come the postseason. The only foregone conclusion about the Thunder’s playoff hopes is that there is indeed reason to be hopeful. A healthier and deeper iteration of the 2012-13 squad could prove nearly unstoppable this time around.

Except for the fact that there are so many obstacles capable of stopping them, least of all a learned dependency on Durant himself. If there’s such a thing as being too good, Durant may be the face of it. He’s so good that teammates are inclined to stand around and watch, leaving him to win games in isolation—and lose games when isolation plays aren’t enough.

Whether that kind of help is enough depends as much on the competition as it does on anything the Thunder are doing. Some things are simply outside of their control.

But this much is certain—there will have to be more than just one hero for OKC. Good as Kevin Durant has been, he won’t win the finals on his own.

2014-04-03

Durant, Jefferson named top players for March

The Charlotte Bobcats’ Al Jefferson and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant were Tuesday named the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in March.

Durant led the NBA in scoring (34.5 ppg) and added 6.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists as the Thunder went 10-4. He became the first player to average at least 33.0 points in three consecutive months since Michael Jordan during the 1989-90 season. Durant has scored at least 25 points in 38 straight games, two shy of the record 40 set by Jordan in 1989-90. He scored 30 or more points nine times in March, topped the 40-point mark on four occasions and hit for 51 points to go with 12 rebounds and seven assists in a 119-118 double overtime win over the Toronto Raptors on March 21. Durant has earned Player of the Month honors four times in five months this season.

Jefferson ranked fifth in the NBA in scoring (24.7 ppg) and ninth in rebounding (10.6 rpg), while shooting .555 from the field, as the Bobcats went 9-7 to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Jefferson topped the 30-point mark on three occasions, while finishing with nine point-rebound double-doubles. He had six games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, pushing his season total to 22, which set a franchise record. In back-to-back games against Miami (March 3) and Indiana (March 5), he became the second player in the NBA this season to make at least 15 field goals and shoot at least .640 from the field in two consecutive games.

2014-04-02

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