Scoring has always been Kevin Durant's forte, and this year, he's doing it like never before. He leads the NBA in that department at 29.5 points per game, just a hair in front of Kobe Bryant in the race for the scoring title.
But that's practically routine for the Durantula; he's finished tops in scoring in each of the past three seasons.
What's more impressive, though, is the way in which Durant is filling it up this season. His current shooting percentages—51.6 percent from the field, 40.4 percent from three, 90.9 percent from the free-throw line—would be not only career highs, but also good enough to make him the sixth member of the vaunted 50-40-90 Club alongside the likes of Larry Bird, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, to name a few.
Throw in his developing post game, and Durant is quickly building a case for himself as one of the NBA's all-time great scorers, at the tender age of 24, no less.
Passing has never been KD's skill, though he's clearly grown as a passer in his sixth NBA season. As SI.com's Rob Mahoney broke down this past November, Durant is doing a much better job of reading and reacting to ball pressure as well as distributing the ball off of dribble drives.
The results have certainly shown up in the box score. He's contributing a career-high 4.2 assists per game this season, buoyed in part by his first triple-double as a pro.
Durant still has a ways to go before he can even sniff LeBron's jock in this regard. That being said, KD's ability, as OKC's top scoring threat, to draw defensive attention and find the open man has made him that much more valuable to the Thunder's title-contending operation on the offensive end.
Strange as it may seem, KD's rebounding is actually down a bit this season by nearly every measure. However, for someone with such a slender frame, Durant does a solid job of competing for caroms beyond his area, thanks in no small part to his incredible length and leaping ability.
It's almost uncanny how Durant's development as a player has come to mirror LeBron's, particularly on the defensive end. Once a non-factor on that side of the floor, KD has since established himself as a pesky on-ball defender and disruptive force in help situations. He ranks among the top 20 in the league in steals, checks in 22nd in blocks and, according to 82games.com, has limited opposing small forwards to a minuscule Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 8.0.
Again, it's on defense that Durant uses his length, leaping ability and quick feet to the most devastating effect. He may well be an All-Defensive performer as is, but might just find himself in the running as the Defensive Player of the Year someday if he can add some meat to his bony body.
Star Power: A++
Durant has been on a tear all season long, to the point that he's once again causing folks around the league to question LeBron's MVP hegemony. His career-high 52-point outburst against the Dallas Mavericks on January 18 marked his fifth 40-point performance since mid-December.
His Thunder came up short against LeBron's Heat during the Christmas Day rematch, but Durant actually outshone his friend/rival with 33 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
And, like LeBron, Durant tallied arguably his most impressive performance of the season against the Lakers. KD scored 42 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists. He played with a new-found fire and intensity in his most recent trip to the Staples Center—a blowout win for OKC.
If LeBron is No. 1 among all ballers, then Durant is a deserving 1A. His continued growth this season, when combined with his youth, portends all-time greatness in the years to come for the OKC superstar.