Kevin Durant: Making The Case For MVP

Torey ZiskaCorrespondent IIFebruary 23, 2010

ATLANTA - JANUARY 18:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on January 18, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images


Some people may gawk if you implied that Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder should win the MVP award over Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers


However, upon taking a closer look it appears as if perhaps Durant has a legitimate case. 


Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers is still in the conversation as well, but after a five game absence in which the Lakers went 4-1, plus the fact that his numbers aren’t quite up to James’ and Durant’s’, we’ll give him third for now.


At this moment, James and Durant are first and second in scoring, averaging 30 and 29.8 points per game respectively. Durant takes the rebounding edge with 7.5 boards per game compared to 7.1 from James.  James 8.4 assists per game easily takes the cake over 2.9 per game from Durant.


Each candidate accumulates approximately the same number of steals and blocks per game, so the next thing to look at is how efficiently they score.


James shoots at an overall clip of 50.3 percent compared to 47.9 for Durant. 


However, it must be factored in that James scores the majority of his points inside the paint, whereas Durant is almost strictly a jump shooter. 


Basically, for every 1,000 shots, James will make 20 more; not an overly big difference in my opinion.


Durant, however, shoots a far better percent from the free throw line, 88 percent to 77.2 percent. 


To give you a better idea, he has shot 43 less free throws than James, but made 25 more. 


Durant is also shooting an impressive 38 percent from the three point line, while James is shooting under 35 percent.  Not a significant difference, but enough to make a point.


The overall stats probably support James’ MVP resume slightly more because of the advantage in scoring and assists. 


However, MVP stands for Most Valuable Player.  Is James more valuable to Cleveland than Durant is to the Thunder?


Let’s wipe the slate clean. 


Take James off of the Cavs for this season and take Durant off the Thunder.  Now let’s assume neither team loses any key players for more than a handful of games due to injury.  Let’s also assume the Cavs don’t trade for Antwan Jamison. 


All things considered, the Cavaliers are still a lock to make the playoffs in the East.  They would not finish ahead of Boston, Orlando, or Atlanta, but one could argue that they might still be good enough to compete for the fourth spot. 


Either way, they make the playoffs.


However on the other hand, the Thunder most likely are cellar dwellers without Durant.


As it stands now, they are in the fifth spot of a grueling Western Conference, but are only three games away from being in the ninth spot. 


I believe one of the best ways to measure a players true value is to take him off his team and see how well his team would do.  However if this was always how it was done, Bryant might have three or four MVP’s by now. 


Nonetheless I believe Kevin Durant should be this season’s most valuable player, with James finishing second. However, the media is in love with King James and chances are it will take something monumental for Durant to get enough votes to take home the prize. 


Durant currently has scored 25 or more points in 28 or more games.  Should he do it 13 more times in a row, that would break Michael Jordan’s record of doing it in 40 straight games.  If Durant can pull that off, and keep the Thunder in the fifth spot or higher in the West, he might just find himself as the NBA MVP.