NBA: LeBron James' Only MVP Competition Is Kevin Durant

Greg RiotAnalyst IMarch 4, 2010

By now there’s no question that you’ve heard of Kevin Durant. As the star of Kobe Bryant fades over the next three years, we as basketball fans thankfully don’t have to search high and low for LeBron’s biggest threat. He already lives and breathes for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The question for the 2009-10 NBA basketball betting season is whether Durant has done enough this season to usurp LeBron from his MVP throne.

The reason Durant is even being mentioned in the conversation is because he was chasing Michael Jordan for the most consecutive 25 point games in a season. The streak sadly ended a week ago when Durant “only” scored 21 points against Sacramento, halting his personal record at 29 games. Durant has failed to score 25 points just six times this season, and using the word “failed” doesn’t even seem appropriate. In comparison, James has scored less than 25 points in 11 games this season.

While we’re playing the numbers game, let’s not forget that James has the best stats of any player in the league right now. It also goes without saying that Cleveland touts the best record in all of basketball, with a slight edge of the Los Angeles Lakers.

LeBron James (47-14 SU)29.9 pts, 7.1 rpg, 8.5 apg
Kevin Durant (36-23 SU)29.8 pts, 7.6 rpg, 2.8 apg
Kobe Bryant (46-15 SU)27.4 pts, 5.3 rpg, 4.8 apg

If you look purely at the numbers, Durant is only getting murdered in the assists bracket, but when you consider that he’s playing alongside fellow youngsters Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green, it’s easier to understand why.

The guy I’m omitting from the race is Kobe Bryant, and not because he missed a bunch of games with assorted injuries. While he’s the league’s most dangerous player, the 4-1 SU record the Lakers maintained in Kobe’s absence only tells us that they’re stacked. Can you imagine what would happen if LeBron or Durant missed a few games? A complete implosion for either the Cavaliers or Thunder would be my guess.

Despite Durant’s unhealthy amount of helpers this year, one of the elements he’s proving in his game is his consistency. Not only is he staying healthy, he’s only scored in the teens in four games this year. If you do the math, that means that Durant is expected to score less than 20 points in only six percent of his games this year, and less than 25 in just 10 percent. That’s a scary thought.

What’s missing from Durant’s resume are the universe shattering dunks and the all-world dazzle of LeBron’s game. At 20 lbs lighter than LeBron, he simply doesn’t have the same amount of domineering muscle or ferocious explosion that LBJ does. Yet consider that he’s only 21 years old. When LeBron was 21 years old he averaged 31.4 points, seven rebounds, and 6.6 assists for the Cavaliers in his third year.

Yet the reigning MVP is running away with the MVP betting by a landslide, and it’s not hard to see why. He has more assists per game than Durant and Bryant combined, and that is the mark of a great teammate. Scoring points and winning games is not always enough and since LeBron’s second game in the NBA, we’ve always known he was a special and unselfish passer.

The league may be a battle between Kobe’s Lakers and LeBron’s Cavaliers, but Durant is the future of the superstar rivals to LeBron. Eventually he’ll add a post-game to his arsenal, maybe after he bulks up a bit and begins to fill out his gumby-like frame, and that’s a scary thought. If you like underdogs in NBA futures betting, Durant is the guy to stick with, especially if his OKC Thunder are able to climb up the Western Conference standings.

LeBron, it’s your MVP title to lose and Durant is serving notice that he wants a piece of the glory.