A lot was made of Kevin Durant’s seemingly slow start where he still led the NBA in scoring, but his percentages were a little lower than the ridiculous numbers we’re accustomed to seeing. I tried to make the point that his start to this season was very similar to last season’s first month and that there’s no reason to fret.
And really, if you look back to last year where KD was absolutely amazing, you’ll notice he’s on a pretty similar path this season.
LAST SEASON THIS SEASON
NOVEMBER 27.7 ppg (46.3 FG%, 23.7 3P%) 26.8 ppg (42.6 FG%, 23.3 3P%)
DECEMBER 29.7 ppg (49.3 FG%, 38.6 3P%) 29.4 ppg (51.7 FG%, 41.1 3P%)
JANUARY 32.1 ppg (51.9 FG%, 53.2 3P%) 30.5 ppg (47.5 FG%, 35.2 3P%)
I remember Durant saying during the first HORSE competition he won in 2009 after heating up late that he’s a slow cooker. Judging by the numbers, that’s true in real basketball too.
KD’s January this time around wasn’t quite as spectacular as last year’s, but this time his team has won more games and he’s had some pretty big moments. Still though, he seems to be the forgotten MVP candidate. He’s leading the league in scoring, his team is first in the Northwest and fourth in the West, yet he’s not even in the top 10 in ESPN’s award tracker but has moved up to No. 5 on NBA.com’s.
A lot of this is because teammate Russell Westbrook (rightly) stole some of the spotlight with his fantastic start to the season. And people love the new story. Westbrook was the new face, the fresh blood in the conversation and he was fun to talk about. Durant may have been the near unanimous favorite before the season but a lot of that was because I think people wanted him to win it. KD was riding a wave of summer momentum that saw him tweet about his extension, win a gold medal and become some weird anti-LeBron.
But the season is long and as this thing has gone along, Durant is now positioning himself and his numbers right back in the spot they were last season where he finished as runner-up for the MVP. He’s off to a pretty nice start in February as he dropped 43 on 14-19 shooting last night against the Hornets and if his team keeps up its pace and wins 53-56 games, there’s no doubt Durant’s name will be where it should.
Last week after his incredible 47-point, 18-rebound effort against the Timberwolves, Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser talked about KD’s MVP chances and both had him second in their mind behind Rose. Today, SI’s Zach Lowe in making a point about KD’s MVP candidacy, brought up the excellent point of how he’s guiding one of the league’s best offenses.
Awards like MVP are all about hype and right now, players like Amar’e Stoudemire, Derrick Rose and LeBron James make for really nice stories. But KD is playing it cool and smooth right now as he brings around his numbers to the level we expected. If Oklahoma City keeps winning and Durant stays on the path he followed last season, everything will line up for KD to be right in the middle of the conversation in April.