Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com in a 5-on-5: “This feels like his year. With his improvement as a rebounder, defender and playmaker, Durant’s all-around game no longer pales in comparison to LeBron’s. Statistically, KD has been the most valuable player so far this season. Despite the threat of Chris Paul, the annual summer Durant MVP hype will finally translate into an actual trophy this spring.”
Rob Mahoney of SI.com says KD is winning MVP: “But Durant and the Thunder — despite a great start after the departure of Sixth Man Award winner James Harden — have been almost completely eclipsed by the Knicks’ shiny success, the Lakers-inspired schadenfreude and the Heat’s occasional malaise. Durant may have years of feel-good coverage working in his favor, but in the most impressive season of his career he’s been oddly under-covered. That quiet isn’t likely to last, but in today’s world of minute-to-minute reporting it’s almost refreshing to see Durant very quietly close the gap on three-time winner LeBron James to the point where he makes for a credible MVP choice.”
Ben Golliver of SI.com has resolutions for every team: “Start an All-Star campaign for Serge Ibaka. Kevin Durant is on track to be an All-Star starter, Russell Westbrook is a no-brainer reserve selection and there’s no question who is Oklahoma City’s third-best player after the Harden trade. That would be Ibaka, who is in the middle of a career year with exceptional numbers across the board: 14.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, three blocks and a career-best 56.5 percent shooting, even though he’s expanded his range this season and is taking more shots than ever before.”
Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com on corner 3s: “The Thunder are a juggernaut already, but they only dabble in this area. One of the rare teams in NBA history to abandon the corner 3 and still put up monster numbers. Scary thought: What happens if the Thunder realize that Martin might be the best corner 3-point shooter in the league?”
With the Clippers finally losing, the Thunder are back on top of the West.
Zach Lowe of Grantland on MVP: “This is a race, for now, between James and Durant, the two finest players in the league. And we have to start here: James is just better, even as Durant has closed the gap with what may end up as one of the greatest shooting seasons in league history — a 50/40/90 tour of NBA destruction. Durant is no. 2 in Player Efficiency Rating, and he has made incremental progress in every aspect of his game. He’s increased both his assist totals3 and the quality of his assists, threading some smart passes out of the pick-and-roll and occasionally whipping one-handed cross-court lasers that make you rewind your DVR to make sure it was Durant.”