Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Miami Heat fans, before you scroll down to the comments section to flame me, hear me out on this one.
It's virtual heresy to pick against LeBron James as Most Valuable Player in 2013. I know this.
Recently, I even said James enters the season as the 2013 MVP favorite, having won the award in 2012 with one of the most statistically dominant seasons in league history. As an encore, he then won an NBA championship, Olympic gold medal and a Finals MVP award.
With that championship monkey finally off his back, James now looks and sounds freer than ever. He could well post a ridiculous 35-10-10 season and prove me a complete idiot for betting against him as MVP.
I just can't help but shake the feeling that much like the 2011-12 season ended up being the Year of LeBron, 2012-13 will be the Year of Kevin Durant.
K.D. has led the league in scoring for three straight years (28 points per game in 2011-12), with a lightning-fast release and a 6'10"-in-shoes frame that make him essentially unguardable. Now, Durant comes into the season having "bulked up" over the summer, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, allowing him to play more at the 4 this coming season.
If there's anything we learned from last season, Durant at the 4 is almost as much of a nightmare matchup as James at the 4. And Durant easily possesses the shooting advantage over the reigning MVP.
This season, I'm expecting Durant to not only average at least 30 points and eight rebounds per game, but to continue expanding the other facets of his game, such as his assist totals and on-ball defense.
If Durant averages somewhere around 30 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game—not a stretch, considering he averaged 28 points, eight rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in 2011-12—James will need to post another statistically legendary season to hold off Durant and repeat as MVP.
Plus...voter fatigue, anyone?
Keep your eye out for: LeBron James, Miami Heat; Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers; Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers; Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves.