Kevin Durant Making History During 30-Plus Point Scoring Tear

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Kevin Durant Making History During 30-Plus Point Scoring Tear
Richard Rowe/Getty Images

Kevin Durant has become every opposing defense's worst nightmare.

This was true even before now, so that means he's actually become a tormenting nightmare within another equally agonizing nightmare.

En route to dispatching the Atlanta Hawks 111-109 Monday, courtesy of a big-time shot from Durant himself, the Durantula dropped 41 points, making history. It marked the 11th straight game he had eclipsed the 30-point plateau, and the 11th straight game he put forth a mind-bending, opposing-defense-numbing effort.

Yeah, it's been that kind of streak, month and season for the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar.

 

Making History Is Fun

Nothing about Durant's last 11 games is modest, except, of course, the always self-effacing Durant himself.

Per ESPN Stats and Information, his 11-game streak ties him for third with Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Jordan for the third longest in three decades, behind only Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant:  

In these 11 games, Durant is averaging 38.5 points on 54.6 percent shooting, nabbing Durant another slice of NBA history:

If the raw numbers don't do it for you, his shooting chart during this span should.

Durant's shot chart during scoring streak (via NBA.com).

How gorgeous is that? With all the green, it's like St. Patrick's Day meets Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles up there.

Durant has been so efficient on paper, he almost makes you forget he's scoring. 

Almost.

High-efficiency players don't typically score in volume. Not like this. But Durant is.

Not only is he averaging 38.5 points a night, he's gone for 40 points on five separate occasions, three more times than any other player has this entire season

Ahem:

Infogr.am.

Durant has at least three times as many 40-point games as anyone else overall, and more than double of anyone this season during his streak alone. What's the word or phrase you use when "incredible" just doesn't do it? Awesome? Dynamite? Is he even human?

Whatever it is, that's how good Durant has been.

Better than that, actually. His streak has included a career-high 54-point outing, making him one of only three players in the last three decades (Jordan and Bryant) to notch 50-point performances during this type of stretch.

Here's a look at how his scoring totals stack up against the other four players who have embarked on similar runs in the last 30 years:

Infogr.am.

Only Bryant had more 40-point games through his first 11. With another similar effort, Durant will have exceeded both the length and number of 40-point displays Jordan notched in 1986-87.

And the possibilities don't end there.

 

More Fun

Making history is fun. Just ask the guy who discovered lettuce. But it doesn't have to be all record-breaking, -tying or -rivaling fun. Sometimes, you just need to appreciate the here and now for what it is: amazing.

Durant is the best player on the planet right now and it isn't even close. LeBron James can keep his "world's best player overall" title because he's earned it, and no one currently in the NBA is going to take it from him. Not even Durant.

Right now, though, Durant is playing like the best. This stretch of absolute dominance has been incredible. Magical. We thought Harry Potter (incoming spoiler) had destroyed the Elder Wand, but it seems we were wrong.

Slim Reaper—yes, this nickname is awesome; admit it—is boasting a 68 true-shooting percentage over the last 11 games. I would say that's really good, but that would imply it's not out-of-this-world, he-almost-never-misses sensational.

Because I want all of us to understand how ridiculous that is, now is when I tell you that just six different players have ever finished a season with a true-shooting percentage of 68 or higher, only two of whom weren't centers.

Matching such efficiency is of course easier over 11 games. Durant isn't tracking toward 68 for the entire season. The nerve of him, right? 

He has, however, elevated his true-shooting percentage to 64.5 for the year. That's still pretty good. Times a million. 

Here's where you fall (more) in love with Durant: Assuming his current numbers hold, he'll become the first (qualified) player in NBA history to post a true-shooting percentage above 64 while also attempting at least 19 shots per game. The current record is held by Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley, who posted a 63.1 on 19.6 field-goal attempts during the 1981-82 campaign.

Amid blistering offensive production, the Durantula has also taken his PER to historical heights, as eloquently pointed out to us by Grantland's Zach Lowe:

Pretty exclusive company, wouldn't you say? 

Through 45 appearances, Durant has also amassed 11.8 win shares, putting him on pace for roughly 21.2 of those bad boys this season. Only four other players have ever exceeded 21 win shares in a single campaign. Their names? Wilt Chamberlain, George Mikan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jordan, all of whom are Hall of Famers and none of whom are James.

But wait, it gets better. 

Durant is securing .329 win shares per 48 minutes, which puts him on pace to maintain the second-highest average among qualified players in NBA history, behind only Abdul-Jabbar (.340).

All hail the Slim Reaper.

 

Just Wow

There aren't enough words or numbers to adequately describe how spectacular Durant has been during this recent streak, and all season; he's been that good.

The MVP award was once James' to lose, and in some ways it still is. But Durant is gunning for it. Hard.

Only a handful of players have done what he's currently doing these last 11 games. Even fewer have done what he's projected to do for the entire season. And fewer still have done it with his sense of humility and genuine amusement.

"I know we play a lot of games and a lot of people say January doesn't mean anything," Durant said after hitting a game-winner over Atlanta, per The Associated Press (via USA Today). "But when you're playing this game with your heart and passion like we do, sometimes you've got to sit back and just enjoy it." 

January—this January—means something. Durant has injected purpose into the halfway lull.

Sit back, relax, ensure your jaw isn't hitting the floor too hard and enjoy it.

 

*Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference and NBA.com (subscription required) unless otherwise noted.


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