Blog Entry

What happened to the MVP favorite, Kevin Durant?

Posted on: April 13, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: April 13, 2011 2:03 pm
Posted by Royce Young

Kevin Durant had already accomplished the hard part. He had the buzz.

The first step in winning basketball most prestigious individual award is building that buzz. With a fantastic season where he became the youngest scoring champion in history, led his surprising Thunder to 50 wins, placed second behind LeBron for MVP and then put a young Team USA squad on his back in Turkey for the first World Championship gold medal in 16 years, Durant had everyone talking.

In fact, coming into the season, Durant was the overwhelming pick by NBA general managers to win the MVP. Most fans were taking him, especially with the way LeBron James damaged his image and his importance by going to Miami to join Dwyane Wade.

But all that buzz is actually what sort of betrayed Durant. Expectations for him were taken to an entirely new level. He averaged 30.1 points per game on awesome percentages last season, so the assumption was he'd top that this year.

He didn't. But it's not like he was bad, or even average. He was terrific. He's about to win his second straight scoring title averaging 27.8 points per game on 46 percent shooting. That's not all that bad, you know. Really, the only difference from this year and last year's scoring numbers is that Durant took almost 150 fewer free throws. Give him 135 more makes from the stripe and he averages 29.6 ppg, much closer to on par with last season.

Most importantly though, his team has gone from fun 50-win upstart to a 55-win legitimate contender in the Western Conference. In terms of resume, Durant has a solid one. Probably an MVP-worthy one.

Bur for some reason, he just sort of got overlooked. Most don't even have Durant in their top five. It's likely he'll finish sixth, behind Dirk Nowitzki. Maybe it was because of his semi-slow start. Maybe it's because teammate Russell Westbrook stole some of the spotlight. Maybe it's because he didn't reach the bar set for him in the offseason, because he didn't live up to the hype. Whatever the case, he sort of was forgotten, despite having a season almost on par to the campaign that had him as runner-up to LeBron.

That's the thing about being the favorite though. People expect things. Durant was expected to take his game to another level and despite his team being better with Durant still doing very good things, he wasn't as good as we thought. That made all the difference.

When he was showered with all that offseason praise for announcing his extension on Twitter, for winning gold and for being the frontrunner for MVP, there was some worry that it might have an effect on Durant. Some wondered if it was possible for it all to get in his head a bit. But KD said it well back in September at the Thunder's media day.

“I feel like the same guy I was in high school. I’ve got a car and a driver’s license, but other than that, it’s the same.” And a giant house, and a shoe, and millions of dollars... but let's not get picky here because I see his point.

When he was asked about NBA GMs picking him as the preseason MVP he said, “I mean, it’s cool but it doesn’t really mean too much." Don't let him fool you entirely -- he would very much have liked to win. But it was never his focus.

Durant said a month ago that the media tends to gravitate toward the new guy. He was that guy last season leading a surprise team to the postseason. This year, it's Derrick Rose. Having that fresh face really is a pretty big advantage. Rose wasn't pegged by anyone as a preseason MVP candidate. So his awesome season seemed to come out of nowhere, making it feel like he really elevated his level of play this year (which he has of course). Durant, on the other hand, appeared to regress. How can a guy be an MVP when he wasn't as good as last year?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing for Kevin Durant here. He's not this season's MVP. But I also don't think he really did anything to entirely remove his name from the discussion.

Winning the MVP really was never on Durant's mind though. Before the season he said, "I don’t set individual goals like that. The only goals I set for myself is to try to have a better season than I did last year. That’s about it. I don’t have to score more points, or get more rebounds or get more assists. But if I got better throughout the season is how I determine if I had a better season than last year.”

Well, he didn't score more points or get more rebounds or get more assists. But his team went from novelty future winner to a contender right now. His team went from good to very, very good. From scary to downright terrifying. Somehow, I think that's the goal Durant had all along. So he can live with his name slipping from the MVP talk.

And before you get too wrapped up in thinking Durant had a "down" year or disappointed in some way by not fulfilling all the hype, remember this: He's only 22 years old. He's just finishing up his fourth season in the NBA. He still has a lot, and I mean a lot, of time left. His MVP will come, but like he said, that's not really what he's thinking about.

Since: Aug 27, 2009
Posted on: April 14, 2011 10:34 pm

What happened to the MVP favorite, Kevin Durant?

LOL @ saying the Bulls have no other stars but D. Rose. Ya because Noah/Deng/Boozer are just averagel.

D. Rose arguably has a better cast then LeBron. But we shall see soon enough.

Since: Apr 6, 2011
Posted on: April 14, 2011 9:27 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: April 14, 2011 3:19 pm

What happened to the MVP favorite, Kevin Durant?

Ill take adding points to other players averages over having him win an MVP any day, and I think he would too.  The team as a whole is so uch better this year because everyone is a scoring threat and not just KD.  Next year we may have several guys averaging double doubles and that would make a possible injury less threatning to the teams success.  They also have most of the team locked up for the forseable future with exception of Russell and we have saved enough $$$ to sign him to a max deal so we are in good shape.

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: April 13, 2011 5:23 pm

What happened to the MVP favorite, Kevin Durant?

In the NBA as well as the NFL and MLB, the MVP is usually awarded to the flavor of the month.
Derrick Rose is deserving of it this year as well as James, Durant and Bryant.  I don't think that
the Thunder are too disappointed in how Durant has played this season.  You could give the award
to any of the 4 players I mentioned and any argument would pretty much be from a fan of the
player that didn't receive the award.

Since: Sep 4, 2007
Posted on: April 13, 2011 5:02 pm

What happened to the MVP favorite, Kevin Durant?

KD never dropped off the radar to me. I had him picked at number 2 before the season started.  He only dropped to 3rd on my list.  D.Rose has come out of no where to upset everyone.  His play this year is the very definition of putting a team on your back. I honestly thought that Kobe would win it since this is probably his only realistic chance of winning it again and Lebron had teamed up with Wade.  I revised my picks for MVP right before the All Star game.
I had it as follows:

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: April 13, 2011 2:55 pm

What happened to the MVP favorite, Kevin Durant?

    I think Durant can actually be likened to Dirk and his situation with the Mavericks.  Durant's numbers dropped slightly, but his team got better, and that's more important in the long run.  Dirk isn't averaging 25 points a game, but his team has experienced greater success than they normally do (with him in I mean, they have a phenomenal record if you remove that 2-7 stretch where he was injured).  Team players sacrifice personal accomplishments if it helps their overall team improve, and I think they've both done that.

   Westbrook's coming out party has probably curbed some enthusiasm about Durant as well.  He has played fantastically and it stole some of Durant's thunder, pun intended.

   Rose on the other hand doesn't have any major stars on his team, although Deng is a very solid and underrated player.  But he has almost single-handedly led the upstart Bulls past the well-established Celtics and Magic, as well as the vaunted Heat, and put them in the driver's seat as the team to beat in the East heading into the playoffs.  That is no small task, he will win the MVP and he completely deserves it 100%.

   If the Bulls were the 5 seed in the East and Rose wasn't willing them to huge victory after huge victory, I think you might hear more about Durant's Thunder winning their division and improving on last year's success.  I think the loss of Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams from their division probably makes it seem like a less impressive feat.

Since: Dec 11, 2006
Posted on: April 13, 2011 2:21 pm

What happened to the MVP favorite, Kevin Durant?

Kevin Durant has had another fabulous year for the Thunder. I had him as my MVP for most of the season. He is the core of a team which now must be taken very seriously, and should make a nice run in the playoffs. But, Rose has had an even more spectacular year with the Bulls. I sure did not see this coming at the first of the year. There is no question he deserves MVP this year with what he and the Bulls have accomplished.

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