Thunder

Will Thunder's Kevin Durant be NBA MVP?

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Matthew

Sell: At first glance it seems ridiculous that Kevin Durant could possibly be this year’s NBA MVP.  I mean he is only 22 years old and it would make him the youngest MVP in league history.  However, he is an extraordinary talent who is likely to be in contention for the award at seasons end.  Last year, he led the league in scoring and his game still has room for improvement.  Plus, there are many factors that should help Durant’s push for the MVP.  

For example, the award usually goes to a top scorer from one of the best teams in the league.  Barring an injury, Durant should easily lead the Thunder in scoring this season and should average around thirty points a night.  He has also greatly improved his all-around game and should increase his totals in assists and rebounds from last year.  It also helps that LeBron is now in Miami and should have see a major decrease in numbers because he has to share the rock with D-Wade and Bosh.  Considering these factors there are only two obstacles that stand in Durant’s way.  One area where Durant may lose MVP votes is if his team is unable to live up to unreal expectations the media has set for them. 

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The Thunder have struggled to start the season and will likely need to finish among the top teams in the Western Conference for Durant to take home the hardware.  I still think the Thunder will turn their early season struggles around, but that isn’t the only area that Durant has to worry about. Durant’s biggest obstacle is ironically quite small….in stature that is.  I predict that this year’s MVP award will go to the Celtics’ Rajon Rondo and Durant will finish as the runner-up.  Rondo is on a team that will have a better record and his numbers so far this season have been outrageous. He is currently averaging a double-double and over 16 assists a game.  If Rondo keeps up this pace then everyone else is playing for second when it comes to the MVP.

Julian

Buy: This question only took me a few quick seconds to answer. I am a huge Durant homer so let me take a moment to put on my burnt orange shades. Durant finished runner up to LeBron James last season for MVP.  James had a season for the ages: he carried his team to their second consecutive 60 win season and top seed in the East. This year, I believe it is Durant’s turn.

LeBron’s decision to “take his talents to South Beach” might help him win titles but it will severely hurt his MVP chances. From the limited number of Heat games I have watched this season, LeBron has yet to put up his last season averages. And if the Heat end up winning an absurd amount of games, MVP voters will see it is a team effort.

In Durant’s case, the Thunder went from a 23-win team in 2008 to a 50-win team in 2009. Expect this trend to keep rising. In the current NBA, MVP is only obtainable if you are on an elite team. With this in mind, I believe the Thunder finish in the top four seeds in the West and possibly around 55-60 wins. Once the Lakers reign in the West is over, the Thunder are first on the waiting list. And obviously, if the Thunder are going to be successful, it will come at the expense of Kevin Durant. Having won his first scoring title in his third season, Durant has a very likely chance to win his first MVP award in only his fourth season.

 To be more specific, the Vegas odds for Durant to win MVP are as low as 5 to 2. If you missed the FIBA Championships this past summer, then let me fill you in. With none of the 2008 Redeem Team on the roster, Kevin Durant became the “alpha dog” carrying US to gold in the process of transforming himself into a top 3 NBA superstar. Currently, I would only put LeBron James and Kobe Bryant ahead of Durant for best player in the NBA. I project Durant to finish around 31-33 points per game while averaging 50% FG, 40% 3-PT, and 90% FT. Last player to do this was Steve Nash… in his 2nd MVP season.

One more thing to chew on: Michael Jordan won his first scoring title in his third season and his first MVP award in his fourth season. Need I say more?

Nick

Sell: As much of a UT homer as I am, and as much as I love KD (I mean look at that picture), I am going to have to sell this one.  I think Durant will win multiple MVP’s during his career; being only 21 his ceiling is at an immeasurable height…but his time just isn’t up quite yet. 

Durantula has drastically improved in his two years in the league thus far, culminating with earning the title of “the youngest scoring champion in NBA history” last season.  He finished second in MVP voting to LeBron and will finish around second or third again this season.  Thus far, Durant’s stat line looks like this: 27.7 PPG, 7 RPG, 2 APG, .394 FG%.  A couple of things jump out at me from looking at his numbers…his assists are far too low for an MVP and his field goal percentage needs to drastically improve.

Let’s take a look at the last 10 MVP winners:

09-10 LeBron James: 7.9 AST, .471 FG%

08-09 LeBron James: 8.6 AST, .503 FG%

07-08 Kobe Bryant: 5.4 AST, .459 FG%

06-07 Dirk Nowitzki: 3.4 AST, .502 FG%

05-06 Steve Nash: 10.5 AST, .512 FG%

04-05 Steve Nash: 11.5 AST, .502 FG%

03-04 Kevin Garnett: 5 AST, .499 FG%

02-03 Tim Duncan: 3.9 AST, .513 FG%

01-02 Tim Duncan: 3.7 AST, .508 FG%

00-01: Allen Iverson: 4.6 AST, .420 FG%

Duncan, Nowitzki, and Garnett (who are power forwards!!!) had more assists than KD currently does on an extremely talented Thunder squad.  If Durant finishes with less assists than Garnett (who was on the T-Wolves at the time), then there is no way he deserves the hardware.  I mean for crying out loud, Shaq (in 99-00) and The Dream (93-94) finished with more assists than Durant currently has and there is no way big men should ever have more assists then your starting SG/SF.  There is also no tell tale sign his stat line will improve.  For his short career, Durant averages 2.6 APG.  I think when these two stat lines improve for KD, and they will; he will start winning the coveted trophies in the NBA for years to come.