When taking stock of this season's MVP candidates, the Western Conference features two hopefuls who have come to define the art of scoring in today's NBA.
One has been at it for a while for one of the league's storied franchises—the other is a dominant, young leader poised to take his small-market Oklahoma City Thunder to the next level.
Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant may be best known for their abilities to score prolifically from anywhere on the court, but they're also well-rounded superstars capable of turning good teams into exceptional ones. Each makes a compelling case that he's his club's most valuable player in the truest sense of the term—without Bryant and Durant, the Los Angeles Lakers and Thunder wouldn't have the slightest chances to contend.
Nevertheless, when compared head-to-head, one stands out as the league's most prized and irreplaceable asset. Here are five reasons Kevin Durant currently means more to his team's championship aspirations than Kobe Bryant.