The ESPN Forecast series has become a staple in the off-season reading of basketball fans. The most recent installment ranked the MVP candidates for the upcoming NBA season and they listed….. LeBron James as the most likely to take out the Most Valuable Player award, with Kevin Durant the second most likely to hold aloft the trophy.
Over the past season or two, trying to split Kevin Durant and LeBron James as the games best player has been very difficult. LeBron had the upper hand with the complete all around game, but Durant showcased a brilliant game in all aspects last season and capped it off with 32ppg and the MVP award.
James has clearly had the NBA title success, but Durant is closing and isn’t even 26 yet. These two will be 1a and 1b for a while to come it seems.
This season, the Oklahoma City Thunder are eyeing off the major prize. They have made it to the NBA Finals, they have made the Western Conference Finals, but now, they want more – and they will be riding the superstar talent that is Durant.
While James has a new (or old) home and teammates, the Thunder will largely trot out the usual suspects – with some tweaking. As Durant has done each and every year, he will be even better again and now after withdrawing from Team USA duties, he will be fresher and more rested. It looms as another MVP-esque season for the Thunder small forward and NBA scoring champ.
LeBron will have to get used to playing with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Dion Waiters and a new coach, while Durant will go about business as usual, with his supporting cast of Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson. That consistency and stability will only aide Durant’s quest for a second MVP award and a first NBA title.
There is little doubt that with the “homecoming” of James, there is a sentimentality for him winning an MVP award in Cleveland, but after the season Durant had and the situation he is in, it’s hard to see anyone else winning it. Westbrook is healthy and his return to the fray might impact on KD’s output slightly, or it might allow Durant to go to an even higher level.
ESPN might have Durant ranked just behind James, but for my money, Kevin Durant is the MVP until someone can take it from him. And that isn’t something he will relinquish without a fight.