Kevin Durant Can Start Making Room for His MVP Trophy

Eric JohnsonContributor IJuly 30, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY - APRIL 22: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder smiles after hitting a three-point shot against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on April 22, 2010 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  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 Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

I know what you’re thinking: ‘If I hear LeBron James’ name one more time, my head will explode.’  For the sake of this article, and for your sanity, I will mention his name just one last time.  All you haters out there (myself included), take solace in this: LeBron James will not win the 2010-2011 MVP Award.

Kevin Durant has already won it.

By moving to Miami, Mr. Decision has taken himself out of the MVP race.  The Miami Heat are just too loaded with talent for anyone on that team to win any individual accolades (apart from my pick for Sixth Man of the Year, Mike Miller).  Even without the man who has apparently never heard of Bill Russell, (why else would he show his respect for Jordan by switching his number from 23 to that of the winningest player of all time?) the Miami heat have a roster capable of winning 50-plus games rather easily.  You simply can’t give the MVP to a player on a team that has two other superstars (although I’m still hesitant to call Bosh a super star) and would function just fine without him.

So, who does that leave to compete for the MVP Trophy?

Kobe?

Dwight Howard?

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Chris Paul?

Let’s face it: Kobe is a bit past his prime, Dwight still hasn’t developed an offensive game, and CP3 is obviously uninterested and hopeless -- before the season has even started!

While anyone would be a fool to ever underestimate Kobe and his will, he’s simply too old to produce like he used too every single night.  He’s still one of the best players in the league, but he’s also got a fairly strong supporting cast to help out on nights when his shot just doesn't fall.

Dwight Howard’s only offensive weapon is the ability to jump higher than everyone else.  I’m fairly confident he couldn’t score in the post if he was uncovered – the only time he scores is when he gets a lob pass or a rebound within two or three feet of the rim.  Okay, so maybe that’s a little harsh, but Howard also lacks some leadership and a certain killer instinct.  I don’t want my basketball players smiling after a hard foul; I want them ticked off and ready to make the other team pay.

Chris Paul is supremely talented and has been building a resume to go down as one of the best point guards of all time.  But in the midst of all the trade rumors and whether CP3 really wants to stay or go, I don’t think he’ll quite have the 21.1 point, 11.6 assist year that got him second in the MVP voting in 2007-2008.  He also had an injury-plagued season last year, so he could be fighting off rust and desire to be elsewhere to start this season.

Kevin Durant, on the other hand, sits in prime position to be the NBA MVP.  While the Akron Hammer was making up his mind, celebrating in Miami, and then partying in Las Vegas, Kevin Durant was signing a contract extension with Oklahoma City and improving his game.  Durant, like the Thunder, will improve with each passing year, month, week, day, and practice.  He’s the best natural scorer in the world, and he has increased his rebounding by over a rebound per game each year he’s been in the league.  He’s also increased his FT%, steals, and blocks each year, gaining a better and better feel for the professional game.

29 games.

That’s how long KD’s streak of at least 25 points lasted.

To put that in perspective, the streak lasted exactly two months.  In the last two months, Albert Haynesworth has held out of camp, changed his mind, and failed two physicals.  Someone else made a decision that Dan Gilbert was strongly against, the MLB held its All-Star Weekend, the World Cup has come and gone, and Tiger Woods came out of hiding to compete in professional golf again.  The bottom line: Durant went on an utterly ridiculous scoring streak.  The kid is just absurdly talented and driven, and he’s got what it takes to ‘wow’ people.

But Durant isn’t the only one on his team improving.

Fellow teammates Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green are sure to improve as well.  The Thunder roster is so young and talented that they may end up progressing into one of the best teams in the league this year.  Their talent and athleticism heavily outweigh their inexperience, and even last year they gave the eventual champions – LA Lakers – fits in a tough six-game series.  You hear all the time that the MVP can’t go to someone on a bad team, and Kevin Durant is on one that could finish as high as second in the extremely competitive Western Conference.

Last year, Durant became the youngest player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring, and there are absolutely no signs of him slowing down.

In fact, he’s just getting started.

Durant is fully capable of averaging 30 a night for a second straight year and possibly upping his rebounding total to 8 per game, giving him MVP votes from those stat geeks.  Add in the fact that his team could leapfrog all the way up to the two-seed in the West, and you can’t penalize him for being on a weak team.  And let’s not forget that the voting is not done by some sort of BCS system; it’s done by actual people with actual feelings, who may let their emotions affect their voting.  Seeing the Durantula express his loyalty to OKC while other veterans spurned their team for a party in South Beach may have secured a few more votes.

By my count, Kevin Durant has already won the MVP Award, and I just lasted an entire article without mentioning ‘You Know Who.’

Now, who knows if Brett Favre is retiring?