Kevin Durant Solidifies Case for 2014 MVP

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The more the season goes along the more certain I become that Kevin Durant is our MVP.  Below is more statistical evidence of his tremendous season.  The below table, courtesy of Bastketball-Reference.com, shows all the seasons in which a player had a PER of 30+ and a Win Share per 48 minutes of 0.300+.  Obviously these aren’t perfect measures or anything, but it is a rare enough feat to manage either a 30 PER (18 times) or a .0.300 WS48 (10 times), that accomplishing both in the same season is a truly unusual statistical achievement.  Basically it says that a player is simultaneously ridiculously productive and ridiculously efficient.

Player

Season

Age

G

PER

WS/48

Wilt Chamberlain* 1963-64

27

80

31.6

0.325

Michael Jordan* 1987-88

24

82

31.7

0.308

LeBron James 2008-09

24

81

31.7

0.318

Michael Jordan* 1990-91

27

82

31.6

0.321

LeBron James 2012-13

28

76

31.6

0.322

Kevin Durant 2013-14

25

41

30.5

0.324

As you see, if he continues at his current pace this season, Durant will join an elite group of 3 players including Wilt, MJ, and LeBron.  Jordan and James both managed it twice, and both won the MVP each time.  Wilt got there once, but Oscar won the MVP that year.  Given that both PER and WS have to be heavily estimated for seasons prior to 1977, it’s probably fair to limit this to just the Jordan and LeBron seasons anyway.

In my opinion, as long as Durant can keep up this production and efficiency, and his team can weather the loss of Russell Westbrook and keep in the top 4 in the Western Conference (and staying ahead of the Heat wouldn’t hurt), he’s got to be the hands-down favorite for league MVP.  It might sound strange after all the praise we’ve heaped on LeBron’s shoulders this season, but I can’t see it any other way right now.

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