Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant on another level right now

A truly special period of games for Kevin Durant has culminated in a career high 54 point explosion in a Thunder win over the Golden State Warriors. Not only did Durant put up huge numbers but he also showcased just how efficient he is on the offensive end, solidified his position as the games best scorer and raised the stakes in his quest for a first NBA Most Valuable Player award and NBA title.

Here is the breakdown of Durant’s performances over the past 10 games.

  • 37pts (46% FG) vs Portland (L)
  • 24pts (61% FG) vs Brooklyn (L)
  • 48pts (50% FG) vs Minnesota (W)
  • 21pts (46% FG) vs Boston (W)
  • 48pts (41% FG) vs Utah (L)
  • 30pts (39% FG) vs Denver (L)
  • 33pts (44% FG) vs Milwaukee (W)
  • 37pts (53% FG) vs Memphis (L)
  • 36pts (38% FG) vs Houston (W)
  • 54pts (68% FG) vs Golden State (W)

Totals – 36.8ppg (48.6% FG) 5 wins 5 losses.

Since Russell Westbrook went in for his third surgery, the scoring load has fallen squarely on Kevin Duran’t shoulders. No longer having Westbrook to take some of the defensive focus, Durant has performed his great feats while having opposition defenders keyed in on him relentlessly. While it is not an ideal situation – Durant and the Thunder would love to have more consistent offensive weapons alongside him – he has made the best of a bad situation and is keeping the Thunder in the hunt.

Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Serge Ibaka have popped up in spots during games (Ibaka especially so in the past two Thunder victories) but they haven’t given OKC or Durant the kind of support that Westbrook normally does. It has meant Durant has also had to become a lot more of a playmaker along with his scoring, which is why we are seeing such MVP caliber performances from him.

Over the past ten games, Durant has also averaged 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, showing that he is much more than just a super effective scorer. With season averages of 30.6ppg, 7.9rpg and 5apg – it is clear that Durant has developed a more “all around” game. He has locked in defensively a lot more and that is infectious among the Thunder team as they have stepped up this year to stop opposing teams scoring. With Durant, Ibaka and Jackson leading the way, the new look Thunder starting lineup is one of the leagues best defensively.

Much of the talk will be about the offensive prowess of Durant, but he PER has now surpassed the leagues best player and multiple NBA MVP award winner LeBron James. After seeing this, it makes a pretty strong case for Durant to win his first MVP trophy. Durant is also keeping the Thunder afloat in Westbrook’s absence which is doing his case no harm as his “value” is clearly being shown not just to OKC but to the rest of the league.

After watching the most recent performance, it is clear to see that this version of Kevin Durant is on another level. There used to be LeBron James, then daylight, then Kevin Durant among others in the argument for best player in the league. Not only has Durant supplanted all other candidates, he has most certainly narrowed the gap to James to the point they could be seen as 1A and 1B in best player arguments.

While the ultimate glory of an NAB Championship has so far eluded Durant, there is not doubt that with a healthy Russell Westbrook and with the next-level Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder are arguably as close as they have ever been to achieving a title. Sure, they still have to get through the San Antonio Spurs and now Portland Trailblazers out West before getting a look at the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat (again) but they are well on their way.

This years version of Kevin Durant seems to have made significant upgrades in every aspect of the game, and that might just be enough to make it back to the NBA Finals. At worst, it may lead to a Most Valuable Player award.

If you haven’t seen much of Durant this season, make sure you tune in. He is a joy to watch and no matter who you follow, you will be impressed. Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder next take the court against the much improved and new-look Sacramento Kings.

 

 

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