Friday, 4 April 2014

Kevin Durant and LeBron James: The Battle For MVP

The MVP is officially on.

It’s a showdown between the reigning 3-time MVP Lebron James and 3 time-scoring champ Kevin Durant. Throughout the ups-and-downs of this season, one thing is clear. It’s definitely a two man race. Other contenders like Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Paul George just haven’t been able to raise their game to compete with the talent that Durant and James provide.

                                                 So… who should get the MVP?

There are so many factors that ultimately decide who takes home the trophy at the end of the year. The most important of which are individual statistics and team success. Also, consistency is another key factor, as being able to play at a high level throughout the season is incredibly important. All of these factors will helps the voters decide who gets the MVP award.

Individual Stats:

At the time of this writing, Kevin Durant has scored 25 or more points in 39 consecutive games. He’s trailing Michael Jordan’s record of 40 straight games. Durant has carried the Thunder this year, with Westbrook out to injury. Without Russ, Durant has seen improvements all across the boards, with increases in points, assists, FG’s, and True Shooting Percentage. Durant has also managed to accumulate an astounding PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 30.5, 1.5 points higher than Lebron’s. In the month of January, Durant had five 50-point games, including a career high 54 points against the Golden State Warriors. He also exploded for 51 points and the game-winner against the Toronto Raptors. Such Jordan-esque play of late could be attributed to Durant saying, “I’m tired of being second, I want to win”.

                Lebron James is Lebron James. He will always be Lebron James. But, will that be enough to win the MVP? Over the past three seasons with Miami, Lebron has average roughly 27 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. Those are numbers that we have come to expect from Lebron. It’s almost as if he has created a golden standard for NBA statlines. In this three season time frame, he has led the Heat to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, along with back-to back championships. But this season has been a little different for the Heat. They are currently in the 2nd seed, trailing Indiana by three games. Dwayne Wade has had trouble dealing with his re-occuring knee injuries, transferring more of the load to Lebron. Has he handled it well? Without Dwayne Wade, the Heat have meddled around .500 this season, giving reason to believe that fatigue could be wearing on Lebron. With free-agency around the corner for Lebron and Bosh, the Heat had better hope for better play from the supporting cast.

ROUND ONE goes to Kevin Durant.

Team Success:

Oklahoma City Thunder:

The Thunder are trailing the Spurs (who they just snapped their 19 game winning streak) for the first stop in the Western Conference. Kevin Durant has stepped up his game amidst injuries throughout the season to both Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. Although, this has not helped their road record, which currently stands at 23-12. The Thunder have to step up their production away from home, although they do have a home record of 32-7. The Thunder have thrived against the poorly competitive Eastern Conference, and have a 33-13 record against the West. With the level of competition, it shows that the Thunder is clearly one of the best teams in the league.

Miami Heat: 

The Miami Heat are currently atop of the Eastern Conference, and have a very good chance of finishing first in the East, if they can hold on. The Pacers are having an untimely slump, ranking last in fast-break points in the last eighteen games. The Heat have elected to rest key players down the stretch, including Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen.  This will allow the Heat to play with an added element of energy during the playoffs, while giving additional minutes to the bench guys during the home stretch of the season.  The Heat are 30-6 at home, but are a meager 22-16 on the road. As well, they have a record of 32-14 against the Eastern conference, which is certainly not the best.

ROUND TWO goes to Durant. 

Game over. 

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