It seems like so long ago already. Friday night in Toronto, the Thunder’s season appeared to be headed for severe trouble when Russell Westbrook limped off the floor. Then Kevin Durant made everyone briefly forget about all that with a 51-point masterpiece in a double-overtime win.
Then everything turned out fine and it was just a hold-your-breath-and-pray thing for like 24 hours.
The NBA season. It can be stressful.
1. Kevin Durant (last week: 1)
KD’s numbers last week: 40.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists on 51.4 percent shooting, 54.2 percent from 3. Pretty decently decent.
On the MVP front, @GBOthunder tweeted me a good point: The often used excuse for LeBron and the Heat are that they’re coasting. I don’t think LeBron is, but if so, shouldn’t that just be more MVP points for KD? How could we award the league’s most prestigious award to a guy that isn’t bringing it every night, compared to a guy that is consistently putting up absurd numbers every game he plays?
The race has been over for a while now, so just consider these next couple weeks Durant’s victory tour. The only question to me is now, how many writers will have the stones to actually still give LeBron a first place vote? I’m not saying it should be unanimous, but I’d like to hear the reasoning for those picking LeBron over Durant this season.
2. Russell Westbrook (last week: 2)
3. Reggie Jackson (last week: 4)
The return of good Reggie? His game in Toronto was solid for more than just the fact he scored 25 points. It wasn’t just the fact he ran good offense, he took good shots and made smart choices.
He’s played four straight games scoring in double-figures, averaging 18.0 points in those. Rounding back into form just in time for the playoffs?
4. Serge Ibaka (last week: 3)
There are currently two players in the NBA averaging at least 15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks: Serge Ibaka, and Anthony Davis.
Ibaka is unlikely to catch Davis who is averaging 2.85 blocks to Ibaka’s 2.59, which means Ibaka’s block title streak will end at two seasons. Still: Despite the decrease in blocks, Ibaka’s defense has been better than ever this season. He’s probably giving up blocks because he’s staying more disciplined in his help defense, and committing more to defending the pick-and-roll.
5. Nick Collison (last week: 10)
Nobody else seems like a good candidate, so I’m putting Collison here by default.
6. Steven Adams (last week: 9)
Fun fact: Perk has played about 40 more minutes than Adams has this season. Adams has more rebounds (291 to 268), more blocks (53 to 29), more points (212 to 185) and more steals (27 to 24). Perk has more… turnovers (84 to 63).
7. Caron Butler (last week: 5)
8. Jeremy Lamb (last week: 11)
With the Thunder, Butler: 25-76 (32.1 percent) and 17-50 (34.7 percent) from 3. He’s averaging 8.1 points in 27.7 minutes a game.
Lamb on the other hand, on the season: 8.8 points in 20.2 minutes a game, 42.3 percent shooting and 34.5 percent from 3.
It’s hard to really say if one or the other deserves to be playing, but I do think Brooks needs to reevaluate choosing only one at a time. Why can’t Lamb still see time on the floor? Why does Butler have to get 27-30 minutes? Lamb proved himself well against the Cavs, showing he’s very much capable of hitting shots and making plays. Butler can do those things too. So maybe not just lock yourself into one at the expense of the other.
9. Derek Fisher (last week: 8)
It really is amazing how Fisher does it. He’s got you all riled up, griping about his playing time and almost has you hoping he misses those ill-advised 3s just to stoke the fire of your fury.
And then he nails a critical 3 and it all comes full circle again. How can you truly blame Scott Brooks for playing him when Fisher consistently does that kind of thing?
10. Andre Roberson (last week: 6)
If you think about it, six fouls in 14 minutes is kind of impressive.
11. Perry Jones III (last week: 7)
Last three games, total: three minutes, all coming in that short-lasted garbage time in Cleveland. It’s looking like Jones’ time in the rotation could be fading.
12. Hasheem Thabeet (last week: 13)
That one play where Scott Brooks put Thabeet in just to be tall against the Raptors? He did a really good job.
13, Mustafa Shakur (last week: 12)
Did you know: Mustafa is actually short for Mustafadeen, his first name? And in a shocking twist, Abdush is his middle name.
Inactives: Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins