The 2012-13 NBA season is about 25 percent over with now for most teams. There haven’t been many surprises and some things look to be the same with the Miami Heat the clear-cut favorite in the Eastern Conference and Oklahoma City and San Antonio atop the West.
One thing that may change this season is the MVP.
LeBron James won the MVP last season, his third hoisting of the trophy in four years. Many thought he would win it again easily this season after he really separated himself from the pack last year.
Kevin Durant is right there with him so far this season and is currently the frontrunner thanks to a career year in many respects.
Durant is right around the league lead averaging 27.0 points per game and is also averaging career-highs with 8.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. His shooting numbers are even more impressive with career-highs in field goal percentage (50.6) and 3-point percentage (44.0) and a true shooting percentage of 64.0.
Durant is flirting with the prestigious 50-40-90 club and for someone who scores as much as he does and shoots as much, it would be an incredibly impressive feat worthy of putting him ahead of someone like LeBron for the MVP.
LeBron’s numbers are great as always leading the league with a 28.9 PER which is better than Durant’s 27.6 PER. But LeBron’s PER took a step back from last season while Durant’s improved. Durant’s also experiencing more team success despite being in a much tougher conference and it has resulted with Durant having a better Win Shares per 48 Minutes number.
We all know that team success plays a large role in determining the MVP, who rarely comes from teams who aren’t 1- or 2-seeds in their conference. The Thunder have simply been better this season than Miami.
Taking that next step and making a big jump are also big contributors in finding out who the MVP is. Durant has taken that next step rounding out his game more and is approaching LeBron statistically. Meanwhile, LeBron’s step back, even though he still leads the league in PER, will work against him in the voting.
The MVP award is still a two-man race just like last season. There are a few dark horses in Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant but it will more than likely come down to Durant vs. LeBron by the end of the season.
A quarter of the way in, Durant has the upper hand. There’s plenty of time for LeBron to reclaim his MVP throne but he has his work cut out for him.