The question of "Will Kevin Durant ever win a NBA MVP award?" has officially been changed to "When will Kevin Durant win his first NBA MVP?"
Especially after his magical performance against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.
Durant has developed into the anti-LeBron James. Like James at one point, Durant plays in a small market. Unlike James, and most of the other elite NBA players, Durant isn't leaving his city anytime soon. Along with his running mate Russell Westbrook, Durant is determined to win a title in Oklahoma City.
Durant is arguably the best young star in the NBA. He may not have a MVP trophy like Derrick Rose, but Durant has led his team just as far in the playoffs (conference finals) and has won two scoring titles.
Rose won the MVP award last season because the Bulls finished with the best record in the NBA, he was the best player on the team and he doesn't have another superstar teammate. Like James of Miami, Durant has the pleasure of having a highly skilled teammate in Westbrook. That hurt his case for winning the MVP award last season.
That doesn't matter as much this season. With the lockout shortened season, this year it's all about resiliency and surviving. If you can survive the entire season, lead your team to a high seed in the playoffs and continue to put up numbers, you'll have a good case for winning the MVP award.
It sounds easy. But it's not. Staying healthy for the entire year in this NBA season is extremely tough to do. Just ask Rose. Or Dwayne Wade.
Durant has been an ironman so far, and if he can keep up his current pace of production, he's got a good shot to win the MVP award.
Here are three reasons why Durant will win this seasons' MVP award:
There's little debate if James is the most physically gifted player in the NBA. He can do things that no other person can do on the basketball court. James just has a problem with irking people the wrong way with almost every comment he makes to the media.
He can't even tweet without upsetting someone.
James is quietly putting together his best season as a pro. Factor in that this is a lockout shortened season, where there is less time to recover from fatigue, and his accomplishments look otherworldly.
But that's the issue with James. He makes everything look so easy that it has become the norm to undervalue everything he does.
James' unpopularity will hurt him when it becomes time to decide who should win this season's MVP award. Since the Heat aren't "James' team," his oppositionist will point to the fact that he isn't the teams closer. Wade is.
Durant doesn't have these issues. He's the NBA's darling. Fans love him. The media loves him. Nobody has an issue with Durant. If he wins the MVP award, it will be applauded. If James were to win the MVP award, it will be old news.
Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal probably should have won the MVP every year of their prime. Yet they didn't.
Just because James is arguably the best player in the NBA, doesn't mean he will win the MVP.
Depth wise, the western conference is tougher than the eastern conference. There are more teams that are capable of making it to the playoffs and making a run to the finals.
Other than the Heat and the Bulls, there aren't a lot of scary teams in the east. Even the Knicks, who stormed back into the playoff race after implementing Jeremy Lin into the lineup, are only .500. They still have a tough second half schedule they need to survive.
Team overall records can be deceiving. Especially when they are used to argue if an eastern conference team is better than a western conference team. Each team plays 48 games in conference, and only 18 against the other conference. The highly marketable teams get the pleasure of playing each other more often because of television reasons. For example, the Lakers and Celtics play each other twice this season. Both games are nationally televised.
The Thunder are marketable because of Durant and Westbrook. Because of the demand to watch Durant and Westbrook play, the Thunder get to play the Heat twice, the Celtics twice and the Magic twice. Other than the first game against the Celtics, all those games are nationally televised. Since the Thunder are in the western conference, they play tougher competition on a more regular basis than both the Heat and the Bulls.
The fact that the Thunder are in the western conference will help Durant win the MVP award. He plays against tougher competition on a more regular basis than either James or Rose. Winning the no. 1 seed in the west is harder than winning the no. 1 seed in the east.
The Thunder are on pace to win the no. 1 seed in the west. Since Durant is the Thunder's best player, it'll give him a good case for the MVP.
Durant has become an awesome basketball player.
It's a joy to watch him play because he's emotional, always works hard and is unlike anything the NBA has ever seen before.
It's common to try to compare James to Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan.
That never seems to happen with Durant. He's just himself. A lengthy forward who is nearly impossible to stop. His biggest weakness is his teammate, Westbrook, who tries to shoot more than him. Durant doesn't really have any gaping flaws.
The scariest thing about Durant is he's only going to get better. He's just 23 years old. Durant may now just be entering his prime.
What separates Durant from James is how they play late in close games. Against the Nuggets on Sunday night, Durant took over the game. For whatever reason, James continues to stumble down the stretch. Durant knows that he is the best player on the Thunder. James may not know if he's the best player on the Heat. James' late game flounders will hurt his MVP case.
If Durant continues to produce and avoid injury, he should win the MVP award. A MVP trophy will go a long way in Durant's case as to who currently holds the belt for "Best Player in the NBA."