In just his third year in the NBA, Kevin Durant has transcended from star to superstar. He leads the league in Points (2441), Field Goals Made (782) & Attempted (1650), Free Throws Made (751) & Attempted (835), as well as Minutes Played (3201). At just 21 years old, his name is already being mentioned in the MVP discussion after he’s helped his young team to almost 50 wins. But with all that said, basketball insiders have been asking the following question: Why shouldn’t Kevin Durant win the Most Improved Player award? My answer: He should.
When you look at the list of former winners, while there are some big names – Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal and Gilbert Arenas – none of these guys won the award when they were averaging 25.3 points per game the season before. But having said that, there is no player that has improved as much as Kevin Durant has this season.
Durant’s scoring average is up four points per game this season. He averages a rebound more than he did last season. His PER has gone up a full six points this year. Before the season, raw and adjusted +/- numbers showed Durant to be somewhat of a liability. This season, Durant is among the league leaders in both metrics, a completely unprecedented improvement. (I can’t get over how ridiculous this was. When an advanced metric questioned Durant’s value, Durant broke the stat and made it difficult to ever take at face value again. It’s like how Jordan used to break the spirit of anyone who ever questioned him, but for the twitter generation.)
Not convinced? Check out this graphic from Eddy Rivera of the Orlando Pinstriped Post that shows Durant’s statistical improvement in comparison with Aaron Brooks and Andrew Bogut (the other leading candidates for the MIP award):
It’s not even close. Kevin Durant is already one of the best players in the NBA, and while LeBron James willing probably win his second MVP award, why not give some credit to the hardest working man in showbiz. Hell, maybe they could even get Greg Oden to present him the award. Too soon…
What do you think? Should Kevin Durant win the Most Improved Player award? If not, then who?
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