Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant has been on an absolute tear in January, and while his hot streak is helping him make a strong case for the NBA's MVP award, it's also showing us that KD is still improving as a player.
With yet another huge performance Monday, Durant helped lead the Thunder past the Atlanta Hawks, 111-109. Durant was on fire, scoring 41 points on 15-of-25 shooting and 5-of-7 from behind the arc.
Oh, and he made the game-winning shot, too.
With another scoring outburst, Durant has now scored at least 30 points in 11 straight games. According to ESPN Stats & Info, only Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant have had longer streaks in the past 30 seasons.
As if that wasn't impressive enough, Durant now has six games this season with at least 40 points, which is four more than any other player in the league.
What we are witnessing from Durant in January is something that NBA fans will see maybe a handful of times in their lives. That's not hyperbole—that's fact. Since the start of the new year, Durant has been averaging 36.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game while shooting an insane 53.5 percent from the floor.
The season stats for Durant are equally impressive. You can see the entire stat line below, but perhaps the most important metric is his player efficiency rating, or PER, of 30.98 according to ESPN. If the season ended now, that PER would rank 11th all-time in the NBA behind players like Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and LeBron James (h/t Basketball Reference).
|Kevin Durant 2013-14 Stats|
The scariest part of all of this? Durant is going to keep getting better.
KD has been a superstar since he came to the league, back in 2007 when he played for the Seattle SuperSonics. It feels like he's been around forever, but at the same time he's only 25 years old and won't be turning 26 until September.
We've seen that superstars in the NBA hit their prime somewhere around 28, 29 or 30 years old. LeBron James is an excellent example. At 29 years old, he's shown noticeable improvement over the past four seasons, steadily improving his shooting percentage and making a bigger impact on the game.
For Kobe Bryant, his prime years came during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 years. He averaged 35.4 points and 31.6 points respectively during those two seasons, doing so at 27 and 28 years old.
Durant has already proven to the rest of the NBA that he's one of the best scorers in the league, but the fact that he's just 25 years old combined with the fact that he's been playing recently without Russell Westbrook has shown us that he is only going to get better over the next few years.