Kevin Durant: Can the Oklahoma City Thunder Forward Topple Michael Jordan?
Let me start off by saying that there will never be a player as revolutionary and extraordinary as Michael Jordan. Not Kevin Durant, not Kobe Bryant, not LeBron James. Nobody.
However, ever since MJ's second retirement in 1999, the question has been posed numerous times as to whether there will ever be another like Jordan.
In short, the answer is hell no.
Jordan was the type of player who, when he and the Bulls came to town, everybody wanted a ticket to see him play.
If MJ put on a show, it was worth paying your money to see your team lose (unless you saw the shot over Craig Ehlo, or were one of the many who saw him decimate the Jazz two years in a row, then it was a bit disheartening.)
In an amazing study done in 1998 (read it if you have time, it's long but freaking interesting), it was calculated that the combined worth of Jordan's endorsements, salary, and effect on NBA income was well over $10 billion at the time. On can only imagine how much it has gone up since then.
I'm not going to pretend that someone can usurp the title of the Greatest of all Time from His Airness.
There is something, however, that can be taken away from him, his long standing scoring title in the 1986-87 season in which he averaged 37.1 points per game, tallying a whopping 3,041 points.
Now, it is true that Wilt Chamberlain has the official NBA "record" at 50.4 per game, totaling 4,029, but that was in a time where the average height in the NBA was around 6'2", when today it is closer to 6'7".
Sure, it was impressive, but it was in a different era, and was a different game.
However, with the tools that Kevin Durant has at his disposal, he could potentially give the Jordan scoring record a run for its money.
In his first three seasons in the NBA, Durant has been a stunning player to watch. His improvement from season to season has also been nothing short of amazing.
His field goal percentage went from 43 percent in his rookie season to 46.7 percent in the following two seasons. From beyond the arc, he has gone from 28 percent to 36 percent.
Aside from that, he shot 90 percent from the free-throw line a season ago. And the guy is 6'10"!
Kevin Durant is something the NBA has seen before. He is a shooting big man, just like Dirk Nowitzki, Larry Bird or George Gervin.
The thing that he has done, however, is perfect the big bodied swingman role, and he is still getting better.
He plays with the old-school mentality of constantly working hard and being ultra-competitive, as you will see him play hard in every game he is in.
Durant has the outside range, the inside presence, the mid-range silky-smooth jumper, the thunderous (pun intended) rim-rattling dunks, and the free-throw shooting confidence to score in tons.
He's also got the players around him so that a simple double team is out of the question.
Russell Westbrook is turning into one of the best point guards in the league, and Jeff Green has turned into a pure jump shooter and Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka are quickly emerging.
The don't have the down low threat to dump the ball down in to, so that is another hole that Durant's big body is able to fill from time to time.
Another thing contributing to Durant's chances at the MJ scoring record is the touchy NBA rules, which Jordan recently said would allow him to score 100 in a game.
A simple hand check can lead to two shots if you're team finds themselves over the limit, and the slightest bump from a defender in a drive to the lane can lead to a three-point play.
A season ago, Durant was the top free throw shooter in the game, grabbing 756 extra points from the charity stripe, making him the only active player, and the first since Karl Malone in 1988-89 to surpass the 700 mark. That just goes to show, you gotta make the free ones kids.
The frightening thing is, on Wednesday night against the Bulls, Durant had an off night, 9-of-24 shooting, 1-of-5 for three, and still scored 30.
He might not do it this year, and it might not be next year, but Kevin Durant has every conceivable possibility of surpassing Michael Jordan's best scoring season, and who knows, maybe even Wilt's.
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