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Oklahoma City Thunder: If Kevin Durant wants to be the NBA's MVP, now is his chance

With point guard Russell Westbrook projected to miss at least seven weeks after undergoing a second arthroscopic surgery to his right knee, Durant now has an opportunity to lead the Thunder as its lone remaining All-Star.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 28, 2013

We've all heard the quote.

Kevin Durant says he's tired of being second.

He was ranked the second best high school player in the country. He was picked second in the 2007 NBA Draft. And three times in the past four years, he finished second in MVP voting to LeBron James, the only player on the planet widely considered to be better than Durant.

This is Durant's time to change that trend.

With point guard Russell Westbrook projected to miss at least seven weeks after undergoing a second arthroscopic surgery to his right knee, Durant now has an opportunity to lead the Thunder as its lone remaining All-Star.

It's an unfortunate reality but one that Durant can use to solidify himself, finally, as the league's most valuable player.

The next 26 games — the number of remaining contests Westbrook is projected to miss — could be a showcase for how dominant Durant can be. Because for as great as he's been over the last four seasons, Durant still has had two road blocks impeding him in his pursuit of the MVP award.

The first was Westbrook, his trusty sidekick, the player who often sparks rallies or ignites runs. Westbrook's presence, as well as James Harden's in years past, has prevented Durant from garnering the complete attention of the voters. It's as if Durant was penalized for not having the pressure of captaining the Thunder alone.

The second has been James.

No matter what Durant has done over the past four seasons, James has found a way to be better.

That's again been the case so far this season.

James is currently the consensus favorite for MVP. Durant is a close second, with Indiana's Paul George, Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul rounding out the conversation.

Durant is averaging more points, rebounds, steals and blocked shots than James, while the Thunder currently has a better record than the Heat. James' superior defense and spectacular efficiency, however, has set him apart.

He entered Saturday's game at Portland shooting a career-high 59.2 percent from the field. According to ESPN.com, if James maintains his current rate he'll become the 11th player in NBA history with a listed height of 6-foot-9 or shorter to shoot at least 59 percent when taking at least 500 shots. He'll become only the second player since Charles Barkley in 1989-90 to be that accurate on at least 1,000 shots.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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