Kevin Durant is your new scoring leader with two games to go (Kobe and the Lakers have one left). It appears Durant has missed an opportunity to win the MVP this season as the Thunder have skidded a bit while he hasn’t been his usual terrifically efficient self. But he has an edge on Kobe for the scoring title, right now by 0.05 of a point. It’s the closest scoring race since George Gervin and David Thompson decided theirs by 0.07.
Who cares, right?
Some have asked why the obsession, or at least interest, in Durant chasing the scoring title. What’s it matter if KD wins something he already has two of? Who cares about points when real trophies are at stake?
To me, that stuff matters. It’s a big deal. When you’re a fan of a team, you’re a fan of all components. At least that’s how I see it. You care about the individual awards, the stats, the little things. Of course wins and losses come first and you give it all up for a ring, but those smaller achievements matter. You want to be able to talk about KD and mention an MVP, how many All-Star Games he’s got, how many scoring titles or triple-doubles. There’s absolutely a pecking order with all this stuff, but I think the hardware count for something. It’s all part of the overall Thunder picture. It’s all part of rooting for a team.
When KD puts up a jumper, if you’re anything like me, you hope it goes in for two reasons: 1) because the Thunder get points and 2) because it means KD’s shooting percentage goes up, he gets points and his final line will look better. Stats matter. Not in the cut and dry wins and losses realm, but in terms of the total fan experience of following your team, stats, awards and whatever else all play their part.
For KD to win a third consecutive scoring title, he joins an elite list of players that includes Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, George Gervin, George Mikan, Neil Johnston and Bob McAdoo. That’s it. No Kobe, no LeBron, no Shaq, no Allen Iverson,. Six players in NBA history have won three straight scoring crowns. That’s an achievement. When you’re a Thunder fan, you’re a KD fan. And again, while wins and championships rank first on the list of desired achievements and a scoring title is probably bottom 10, it’s something to be proud of. It’s something you have to put on KD’s eventual resume. Listing off things that includes, “10-time NBA scoring champion” sounds pretty good, right?
I’m certainly not advocating for Durant to try and consciously win the award these next two games. That would be entirely unlike him. He’s team first, win first and Kevin Durant last. It often seems like he scores because he can’t help it. He has his mind completely locked in on efficiency and playing team ball. Because of that, it wouldn’t surprise me if he averages something like 22 a game for these last two. Especially since the Thunder’s Western position is all but locked in. Durant might only get 20 minutes.
I just think we should care about it. I want James Harden to win Sixth Man of the Year. I want Serge Ibaka to win Defensive Player of the Year (even if he probably shouldn’t). I want KD to win the MVP. And I want KD to win another scoring title. Nothing wrong with that.