Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant might not be MVP, but he's forced his way into the conversation
Kevin Durant has been having a season that's dominant and efficient, but that still might not be enough to take the NBA MVP award away from LeBron James.
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Only five players have secured the necessary shooting percentages to join what has been labeled the “50-40-90 club.” They are Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki.
Durant, at 51.9 percent from the floor, 42.7 percent from the 3-point line and 90.7 percent from the foul line, is well on his way to becoming the sixth.
Nowitzki is the only player among the current five-man club who amassed percentages of 50-40-90 while leading his team to the best regular-season record. That came in 2007, when Nowitzki won the regular season MVP award but ranked 14th in scoring at 24.6 points per game. Nash is the only other player in the 50-40-90 club to win MVP in the same season that he achieved those shooting percentages. His honor came in 2006, when he ranked 33rd in scoring with an 18.8-point average. With 54 wins, however, the Suns finished 10 shy of Detroit that season.
Durant and the Thunder will come out of All-Star Weekend needing to make up 2 1/2 games on the Spurs in order to finish with the best record. It won't be easy. The Spurs have won 14 of their past 15 and also have already completed four additional road games.
But Popovich knows better than to hold anything past Durant at this point. Asked what impresses him most about Durant's season, Popovich immediately pointed to Durant's consistency.
“He does this night in and night out,” Popovich said. “He's competitive. He does what he needs to do to help his team win every night. The other thing is he's becoming more of a leader. He's becoming more vocal. He's demanding in the right way of his teammates. He's become one of the more mature players in the league in that sense, even though he's still a young guy. He's progressed very quickly as far as the mental side of the game.”
The only thing left is for Durant to be honored accordingly.
As the reigning All-Star Game MVP patiently awaits the outcome, he continues to marvel at how far he's come and the company he now keeps.
“I sit at home all the time and just reminisce on the road I've taken to get here,” Durant said. “Growing up and working so hard every day just to become good and become one of the best players in the league at this time is a great accomplishment. I never can take it for granted being here.”
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