Read the title again and let it sink in. No I didn’t misspell LeBron. To be honest I didn’t even think of Kobe. When I was asked this question recently I did not even hesitate to answer. Kevin Durant is the MVP of the NBA this year. It is so blatantly obvious that he is the most deserving player of this award that I shouldn’t even have to support my argument. But for those critics out there I will delve into my reasoning and prove without any reasonable doubt that Durant is the man.
First, Noah Webster defines valuable as being of considerable use, service, or importance. Based on what the word valuable means, Kevin Durant is the illustration of this definition. Jump into your Delorean and travel to the beginning of the NBA season. Take a look at your favorite team’s schedule and tell me that you did not circle whatever date they were playing the Oklahoma City Thunder as an automatic "W." The Thunder won 23 games last season. It is fair to say that they are a young team and an improvement over that win total from a season ago should be expected. But to win more than double the amount of games they won last year? That is absurd.
The Thunder play in the Western Conference in the NBA which is the varsity conference compared to the "jay-vee" Eastern Conference. Or as my co-writers love to say, "The Big East and then the rest of the NCAA." While this argument is seemingly as old as time it still holds water. Consider this: At the time of this writing, the Toronto Raptors hold the eight seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs if the season were to end today with a record below .500 at 35-37. On the other hand, the Portland Trail Blazers have the eight seed in the West with a 45-29 record. In the East, Portland would be a five seed!
The point of these facts are that the Oklahoma City Thunder play more competitive teams more often thus making it more difficult to do what they are doing. The Thunder have the stranglehold on the 6 seed in the West and are 3.5 games out of the 2 seed. Their ring leader? Kevin Durant.
The elephant in the room pertaining to this argument is LeBron James. There is no doubt that LeBron is the best player in the NBA. But I argue whether he is the most valuable. Would Cleveland be a number one seed without Lebron? Hell no. Actually would anyone know that Cleveland was a city without LeBron? Debatable. I am willing to bet however, that without LeBron, Cleveland would still be good enough in the East to at least make the playoffs. If Kevin Durant was not a part of the Thunder, they would be more likely to be entering the "John Wall-Evan Turner" sweepstakes come June. Instead they are looking at potential match-ups with Denver or Utah making their draft position of little importance.
Now while the biggest winner of the genetic lottery known to man (LeBron James) is putting up stats make Dick Vitale speechless, (29.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 8.6 apg) Durant is doing more with less around him. Durant’s stat line is nothing to sneeze at either (29.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.7 apg.) Compare LeBron’s supporting cast to Durant’s. LeBron is surrounded by players with unique skill sets and experience. He gets solid guard play and 3 point shooting from Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, Delonte West, and Daniel Gibson. The Cavs acquired a legit second option for LeBron in Antwan Jamison. Sideshow Bob Anderson Varejao is a player that opposing teams have to hates because he will get every loose ball, irritate the opposition to the point of getting them T’d up, and brings energy off the bench. JJ Hickson has proven to be more than a solid contributor who will rebound and work hard defensively as well. Oh yeah, then the Cavs have a wide load coming back from injury in future Hall of Famer, Shaq. The team is quite and is the best in the NBA and it’s not even close.
Durant’s Thunder? Yeah, they have Russell Westbrook who will might be developing into another Chris Paul or Deron Williams right before our eyes. After that? Look at this roster and don’t laugh. I dare you. Jeff Green is ok at best. Then Nick Collison? Nenad Kristic? The more I list off names the more perplexed I become thinking how the Thunder are as good as they are. Then I remember. Kevin Durant. He has played in all 72 games so far this season because he has no other choice. Oklahoma City does not have the luxury that Cleveland does of sitting LeBron down a few games just to rest him. (LeBron was able to sit for 2 games last month for rest. They went 1-1 beating San Antonio and losing to Milwaukee. Jamison dropped 30 and West 27 against the Bucks.)
Take LeBron off the Cavs and they are still a formidable team although not great. Take Durant off the Thunder and expect them to be in the draft lottery every year. It is not opinion. It is a fact. Kevin Durant is the 2009-2010 NBA MVP.