With most of the NBA focus around the, as of late, struggling Miami Heat and the rest of it on the surging Indiana Pacers, Kevin Durant is stirring up something exceptionally special in Oklahoma City.
In the dark, without his running-mate and without your attention.
Durant is finally putting together the type of season that warrants an award. One that has three letters, no words. One that should go to the best player in basketball, because, right now he’s playing like the best player in basketball. But while you’re too busy either falling out of love with LeBron James or in love with Paul George, Durant won’t be your Valentine this Feb. Instead, he’ll be putting his head down, picking up his lunch pail on his way out and going to work with or without your spotlight.
If my word isn’t enough, just look at his month of January.
Specifically, his last eight games:
In the month, Durant is averaging 37 points per game. Thirty. Seven. His player efficiency rating is 30.53, tops in the NBA this season, and almost two full points better than LeBron’s. Durant’s win share percentage per 48 minutes is also tops in the league at .324 and the next closest is LeBron at .280. That’s basically THE MVP winning stat.
In summary, if the MVP award is a statistically driven honor, Durant is running away with it.
If you still need some persuading, just take a look at this interesting graphic that SB Nation had on comparing Durant’s progression during the LeBron MVP-era:
If you play close attention, the years that LeBron has won his four MVP’s, his PER has been 31.7, 31.1, 30.7 and 31.6. Durant’s right now is 30.5, which is similar to LeBron’s in all four years.
However, it’s not only his individual statistics. Team-wise, Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder (32-10) have a better record than LeBron’s Miami Heat (30-12). You can use the whole, well Dwyane Wade is missing about one-third of those games, but let’s remember that the Thunder has only played with Russell Westbrook for only 25 of their 42 games.
Durant has been doing most of his damage, during the month of Jan, all while Westbrook is healing up, and resting up at home. That should bode well for them down the road, but that’s an entirely different conversation for another day.
The bottom line is that Durant’s play this season has been deserving of the MVP award. For once, LeBron James could actually get outplayed for the MVP award. It would be the first time that’s happened in the last five years. Derrick Rose was great, but he wasn’t a better MVP candidate than LeBron in 2011, let’s be honest.
Durant, however, this season is. Perhaps the only person standing between Durant and the MVP award is Durant himself.