Kevin Durant continues to stay hot, LeBron reaches 23k points
What a great battle we’ve been witnessing all season long this season, between Kevin Durant and LeBron James. The two best basketball players currently active in the world are fighting chest to chest for the MVP award of the season and the race is certainly close. Let’s examine some facts and the latest updates about the MVP race and try to predict the winner.
We are less than two weeks removed from the end of the 2013 – 2014 season and still, nothing is clear. The top seeds in either conference are still not locked by any team, although the San Antonio Spurs look like the strongest favorites for the Western Conference. The eight seed of either conference is also still on the table. And when it comes to the MVP of the regular season award, Kevin Durant might be the leading candidate, but his margin from King James is small. During some of the previous years, at this point of the season we already knew which player would win the award. However, this season, things are not clear and here’s why.
There is no denying that Kevin Durant is recording a better season than LeBron. The gap between the two in regards to stats and numbers might be small, with LeBron still holding the advantage in shooting percentage. However, KD is way ahead in points per game and in fact, he is continuing to lead the entire NBA in scoring. Apparently, Durant will finish at the top of the league this season.
Both players are breaking one record after another. Both of them set a new career – best for most points in a single game earlier in the season. Yesterday, LeBron became the youngest player in the history of the league to reach 23,000 career points. LeBron also became the only player in the history of the sports to reach that mark before his 30th birthday.
On the other hand, Kevin Durant set another significant record and continued to impress the NBA world. After the Oklahoma City Thunder’s latest game, when KD finished with 25 points, Durant tied Michael Jordan’s record with 40 straight games with 25 or more points over the span of the last 50 years. The megastar forward has been sensational all season long, especially on the offensive end and this record is just another proof of his dominance and his greatness.
We can easily recognize Durant’s greatness this season. He is filling the stat sheet night in and night out. He recorded two superb months in February and March. He also led the OKC to success during the time his fellow superstar Russell Westbrook was sidelined due to an injury. Durant is putting up around 32 points per game and he is just a nightmare for opposing defenses. He can be described as a basketball masterpiece, a player who has the size of a center, handles the ball like a point guard (maybe even better than some point guards around the league) and shoots much better than several shooting guards. In fact, his size gives him a great advantage when it comes to shooting, since he can release his shot over opponents. So it’s like shooting wide open in most of the cases for him.
On the other hand, LeBron can be described as a “do it all” type of player. He is better than Durant when it comes to defense but also passing. Lots of people around the league characterize King James as a pass – first type of player and a natural scorer. Of course, LeBron has developed into one of the best scorers in the league. However, he is so good in other sectors, too, that sometimes his scoring skills aren’t highlighted. On top of that, some of LeBron’s greatness is not shown in stats and scores. LeBron’s ability to contain almost any player in the league, for example, is something that can’t be counted with stats. His court vision and high basketball IQ, his ability to pass for an assist out of a double team can’t be measured either, at least not easily.
Team success is there for both superstars this season, so it’s not a clear indicator of which of the two should receive the award. In fact, both LeBron and Durant had to carry their teams during some stretches of the season. LBJ had to play big for the Heat when some of his teammates were out with injuries, with Dwyane Wade being the most significant absence. On the other hand, Durant did a terrific job carrying the Thunder when Russell Westbrook was out. Unlike the 2013 NBA Playoffs, when OKC got smashed without their superstar point guard, Durant reached a close to unreal performance to lead his team to the top of the tough Western Conference.
If we look at the big picture, it seems that the two beastly players are almost tied when it comes to the MVP race. Durant is recording better numbers but LeBron has a better overall presence. He is still considered as the best player in the league and there is a good reason for that.
The certain fact is that voters will have a very difficult time choosing one out of the two candidates for the MVP award – this is a two man race this season. It might come down to what preference each voter has, scoring or overall contribution. If I had to pick one player this season, I would go with Kevin Durant, just because LeBron has won the title in four out of the last five seasons and because KD is recording the best season of his career. I still believe LeBron is a much more complete and better player.
My prediction is also that Durant will be the one to win the title. His monster performances simply can’t be overseen.