By now, you've probably heard Kevin Durant's name mentioned about 5,482 times on SportsCenter in the past two weeks. Well, there's an explanation for that. And the explanation is that Durant's putting up crazy numbers—numbers that make you second-guess if he is actually from this world or if he is a basketball god sent from the heavens.
All hyperbole set aside, Durant has been phenomenal.
He has had nine straight games of 30 points or more. And in that stretch, he had games recording 48, 54 and 46 points. It's gotten to the point where if he scores 36, then it's just plain boring.
Not only has Durant shown he is capable of putting up awe-striking numbers on a consistent basis, but he has also shown he can carry the Thunder without Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder have gone 10-5 (victors of their last five) since Westbrook underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, and most of the success can be credited to none other than Durant.
But if you ask Durant, he will downplay his performance and credit his teammates for the recent success: (Hat tip to Royce Young on DailyThunder.com for the quote.)
Screens being set for me. Passes on time and on target. Perk is giving his body up for me, Serge is giving his body up, Steven, Nick, the bigs are doing a great job of getting me open. My teammates do a great job of setting me up. It’s far more than just me. It’s a small part actually what I do. It’s more so the plays coach calls, the screens being set, the passes being passed. I think the end result is just on me trusting in the work to knock down shots.
The numbers from Durant and James are close, but you can't deny what Durant has done this season without his running mate Westbrook on the floor.
(Season comparison chart credited to basketball-reference.com)
As you can see, Durant is not only putting up a hefty amount of points this season, but he is also averaging career highs in assists (5.1 per game) and steals (1.5 per game). Plus, he is averaging 7.7 rebounds per game, which is slightly under his career-high average of 7.9.
So while Durant is taking his scoring to a whole new level, other aspects of his game have not suffered. In fact, some of them have even improved.
Royce Young on DailyThunder.com talked about Durant's recent scoring outbursts and how his development as an all-around player has not taken a back seat:
You know the stats. Durant has scored at least 30 in seven straight games, and has done it 24 times this season, 11 more than No. 2 (LeBron James). But here’s what I was curious about: What are KD’s other numbers in those 30-point games? In those 24 games, Durant’s averaging 5.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds. Basically right in line with his season averages. What I found interesting there is, even on the nights where scoring becomes the focus of Durant’s game, where he shoulders the load offensively, he still maintains the rest of his game. It’s not like on the 30-point nights he averages 2.5 assists and pads that up in his 20-point ones. Durant’s basically the same player throughout. Just some nights he hits a few more shots than others.
But you know what’s sick? That Durant casually goes for 30-5-9 last night and it felt completely nonplussed. When you see 32 from Paul George, you go “Whoa, Paul George had 32 tonight!” but when Durant does it, it’s completely routine. That’s the mark of true greatness. When it takes 54 points to get your attention.
You're exactly right, Royce. It takes special performances for great players to catch our attention. And right now, all eyes are on Kevin Durant.
It's unfair to Durant for all of us to expect him to continue the incredible run he is on. But he has shown us he is perfectly capable of winning games almost single-handedly. If that isn't the best quality for an MVP candidate to have, then I don't know what is.
Let's be honest, would you ever bet against what Kevin Durant can do?
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