Kevin Durant has the numbers -- good lord, the numbers. Durant has numbers so big they resemble one of his overstretched arms raining down jump shots and casting a dark shadow over the rest of the league. 31 points a game. 7.7 rebounds. 5.1 assists. A 50/41/88 shooting line that translates to a .640 True Shooting Percentage and a player efficiency rating over 30 for the first time in his career. Durant has the team record and it’s the best in the West. Better than the Spurs. Better than the Blazers. Better than the Warriors, Rockets and Clippers. And he’s doing it without Russell Westbrook, meaning that on a team that features three other starters who don’t create their own shot he’s basically on his own out there. No wonder he’s using almost a third of Oklahoma City’s possessions, and did we mention that .640 True Shooting Percentage? Also, have you watched the guy play? Durant is doing absurd things to his opponents that leaves them shaking their heads and writers failing to come up with enough verbs and adjectives to accurately describe what they’re watching. 54 points against Golden State on 28 shots. 30 points on only 15 shots in just 32 minutes against the Kings. 46 against the Blazers and enough end-of-game threes to have everyone speaking in tongues. 36 against the Spurs on San Antonio’s home court. "After every game I’ve been getting at least 30, 40 texts," Durant said as the Thunder pulled into Boston on Friday. "But I’ve seen Kobe Bryant score 40 points in nine straight games, Michael Jordan have 11 triple doubles out of 12 games, LeBron James have a month where he’s averaged 35 points. Those guys, that’s something to write home about. I try not to worry about myself because there’s so many guys that have done it before I did. I’m just trying to get better." A frightening thought. Here’s another thought that’s dominating the conversation this week: Is there really an MVP argument at the midway point of the season? Well, yeah. There is. LeBron James’ numbers are also amazing. It’s not as if James has fallen off dramatically and if he has we’re talking nth of degrees. 26.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6.5 assists with an even better True Shooting Percentage of .661 and way more defensive responsibility than Durant. The record is also strong, just a couple of games behind OKC’s pace. LeBron is doing it without Dwyane Wade with increasing frequency and for a team that’s been without several other key contributors. Granted, LeBron’s ohmygod moments have seemed to be less and less frequent these days. Maybe it’s because we’ve become numb to the sight of a 270-pound man playing with his staggering combination of agility, force and precision. Also, the Heat have gone into their annual winter funk at exactly the same time as Durant has presented himself to the world as a mythological freak of Jordanian proportions. Let’s be honest here: If you were riding with one of these two guys to win a championship this year, who would you pick? That’s still LeBron’s trump card, but that’s reserved for the spring. This is about now and right now, today, Kevin Durant has been the MVP of the first half of the season. Barely. There has been a lot of talk around the league about how disappointing this season has been. Injuries have played havoc with teams from New York to Los Angeles. The East is a joke. Too many teams are worried about the future, which leaves the present gasping for relevancy. That conveniently ignores the great stories in Portland and Indiana, to say nothing of Doc’s Clippers, Dwight Howard’s revival in Houston and the impossible-to-ignore Warriors. Yet, this season has been kind of a drag. The playoff jockeying out West is interesting to a degree, but as the season reaches the midway point, we’re all kind of hoping to fast forward to April with everyone healthy and ready to play. Durant and LeBron can change all that. I argued last season that we were bearing witness to nothing short of a golden era in pro basketball, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Bird and Magic were at their apex. Durant’s shooting has been Bird-like, while Bron’s all-around game has always been more Magic than MJ. LeBron has even copped to keeping tabs on Durant’s exploits, much like Bird used to do with Magic.
Kevin Durant has taken over
SB Nation | Jan 26