Dec. 25, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) and Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) look up for a rebound during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant projected to finish 2nd in the MVP voting behind LeBron James, again

The projections for the upcoming NBA season have been rolling out from ESPN. Most recently they weighed in on who will likely be the MVP of next season.

To no one’s surprise, they went with LeBron James, who received the most first place votes with 353.

Kevin Durant came in second with 218 first place votes while Chris Paul was third with 96.

LeBron has won the last two MVP’s and four of the last five, so it’s hard to argue against him unless you plan to predict something that hasn’t been going on the last five seasons. But, that is what often happens and I think KD will have as good of a chance to win the MVP this year as ever.

In a way, the departure of James Harden and now Kevin Martin sweeten Durant’s chances of winning the award. Mainly because the Thunder will have to ask even more from him this coming season.

Durant is coming off the best season of his career and one of the best statistical seasons in NBA history, it was just overshadowed by LeBron last year. The point being that Durant is already producing at an MVP level, just LeBron is too.

It feels like Durant can still can a lot better by improving his passing and defense while remaining the best scorer in the league. Replicating last season will be very tough for LeBron to do. Doesn’t he have to see his field goal percentage go back down a little bit?

The first thing Durant needs to do to win the MVP, is clearly narrow the gap between himself and LeBron. The next ingredient is team success.

If the Thunder finish with the best record in the Western Conference, or even the entire NBA, Durant will receive the strongest consideration yet for the award. But if the Heat are once again five-plus games ahead of the Thunder in the standings, it will be hard not to award the MVP to LeBron again.

Whenever Michael Jordan didn’t win the MVP, it was because another great player’s team had more wins than the Bulls. Jordan still had the better season (than Barkley in ’93 and Malone in ’97) but those Suns and Jazz teams won more games than Chicago.

The Thunder need to win more games than the Heat to give Durant the best shot at winning this. If the Heat have the best record in the league, and LeBron still clearly looks like the best player in the league, good luck finding an excuse to give Durant the award.

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Tags: Kevin Durant LeBron James Oklahoma City Thunder

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