Weighing Kevin Durant's Odds of Winning MVP This Season

Kyle Ramos@Kyle_RamosCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2013

Jun 17, 2012; Miam, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) and Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) during the first quarter in game three in the 2012 NBA Finals at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

There's no doubt that Kevin Durant is one of the best basketball players on the planet. But will he ever reach the recognition of being the best in the NBA?

Looking at Durant's statistics over the past few seasons, as well as how many wins he's been piling up with the Oklahoma City Thunder, it seems like he should have brought home at least one MVP trophy by now. Unfortunately for KD, that hasn't been the case and there's one simple root cause preventing it.

LeBron James.

Arguably the only player more dominant over the last two seasons than Durant has been James, who punctuated his past two MVP awards with two NBA championships and two Finals MVPs as icing on the cake. 

Seeing as James has shown no signs of slowing down, what are the actual chances of Kevin Durant winning the voters this season to prove himself worthy of his first MVP award? Right now, I'd pencil it in as unlikely, but not impossible.

Some might think it to be impossible, especially after seeing the voting this past season where LeBron was one vote away from being named MVP unanimously. To put that in perspective, there has never been a unanimous selection for the award and only one other instance of a player being just one vote shy of being unanimously selected (Shaquille O'Neal in the 1999-00 season).

As you can see, things are looking a little bleak for KD's chances. All hope is not lost, though. The one beacon of light that Durant can look to is Derrick Rose's season in 2010-11. That year, Rose lead the Chicago Bulls to an NBA-best 62 wins and also posted some impressive averages of 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds. 

Sure, LeBron posted better numbers that season (26.7 points, seven assists and 7.7 rebounds), but it was what Rose had done for his team and his importance to the Bulls success that swayed the voting.

The performance by Rose that season is going to be what it takes for Durant to overtake LeBron's dominant streak of MVPs this upcoming season. However, it's going to be even tougher than Rose had it.

Not only are the Heat looking to cement their dynasty status this year with the possibility of a three-peat on the plate, but LeBron is playing with all-time highs of confidence with no amount of hate able to slow him down anymore.

Therefore, Durant will not only have to produce his usually big numbers while having big games (like his 52 points against Dallas last season), but he will also have to take the Thunder team as a whole to the next level. In doing so, he would prove that he truly is the most valuable player in the league.

Are the Thunder equipped for a season like that, though? It's tough to tell right now with all of these question marks surrounding the team. Issues like filling the sixth man scoring void or having to start Kendrick Perkins at center may plague Oklahoma City during the early parts of the season or even further on into the year.

Those types of things are out of Durant's control, but all the voters will see is how many games the Thunder won at the end of the season, and they will look to see how often their best player contributed to those wins.

Because of that, the odds are still stacked rather high against KD, who has the misfortune of being in his prime during the same time that LeBron is in his. But as I said earlier, it is not impossible for Durant to steal an MVP away from James this season.

If he's going to do it, not only will Durant have to impress with how well his team does, but he will have to show a whole new side of dominance on the court. This means making huge and noticeable plays (especially in nationally televised games) that will build up his reputation as an unstoppable force.

On top of that, Kevin Durant is going to have to capitalize on every opportunity he gets to close out a win with clutch play on both ends of the ball, something he's shown himself to be fully capable of.

Even with the possibility of winning an MVP this season, Durant isn't focused on any individual achievements. Instead, he wants to build his legacy with the ultimate prize in professional basketball: an NBA championship. 

All of the individual accolades are nice, but KD ranks any of them far below a ring on his finger. That doesn't mean, however, that he won't be out there this season playing as hard as he's ever played. In fact, this cover photo and quote from Sports Illustrated earlier this year proves that Durant is gunning to be the best.

To be the best, you still have to beat the best, and that's very true for Durant as he tries to dethrone King James. Winning the MVP award may be far from the front of KD's mind, but it's certainly still on his mind and it would be a small victory for him in his ongoing quest to vanquish James and the Heat. 

It's going to take everything I mentioned and probably a little bit more, too, in order for Kevin Durant to rake in his biggest individual achievement thus far. However, it is definitely a possibility and he's demonstrated that he has all the necessary talent and drive to climb this mountain.


All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.