Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Kevin Durant Tops LeBron James To Win 2013-14 NBA MVP Award

Durant finished the regular season as the NBA's leading scorer at 32 points per game while also averaging 7.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.3 steals and nearly a block. He shot better than 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc.

His tremendous season allows him to take the MVP crown away from Miami Heat counterpart LeBron James, who had won it each of the past two season and four of the past five.
James and Durant turned the MVP chase into a two-man race by the All-Star break. They were far and away the best two players in the league this season.

Although James put together another outstanding campaign of his own, Durant was seemingly able to pull ahead down the stretch and held on to win the award. The fact his team finished five games ahead in the overall standings was probably the tiebreaker for any voters on the fence at the end.

By early April, James saw the award slipping out of his grasp.
Michael Wallace of ESPN.com passed along comments from the Heat star, who admitted Durant was the most consistent MVP contender this season and said it would be great to reward him with the trophy:
I think KD has had one heck of a season. And, you know, if he's rewarded with the MVP, it would be great. It would be awesome for him, for his family. He's played MVP-type basketball. I don't really get caught up into what people say. At the end of the day, they have their own votes and they go from there.
Around the same time, Cliff Brunt of the Associated Press (via NPR) provided Durant's explanation as to why he believed it was possible for him to take his game to another level this season. He was a strong MVP contender in recent years, but finally took the next step to overcome James:
I've seen every type of defense. I've seen every type of defensive player, so nothing is new to me. You can be physical with me, foul me. You can push me out. You can do whatever. I'm still going to play my game.
The result of that confidence to play his style regardless of what the opponent tried to do allowed him to become the best player in the league.

Durant and James finished as the top two players in three key advanced stats calculated by ESPN: player efficiency rating, value added and estimated wins added. Durant edged James in all three categories.

He also claimed the league's scoring title for the fourth time. He did so by nearly five points, which ranked as the third-highest margin since 1970, according to ESPN Stats & Info: Durant is once again the scoring champ. He won by 4.6 PPG over no. 2 Carmelo Anthony, 3rd-highest margin since 1970.

In addition, the Texas product joined elite company in terms of his combination of points, rebounds and assists for the season, as noted by the NBA.com Stats feed: became the 4th player in the last 45 years to average 32.0 Points, 7.0 Rebounds & 5.0 Assists for a season (MJ, McAdoo, Kareem)

Looking ahead, Durant is 25 and James is 29, which means they likely have several more MVP battles ahead of them. There are several other high-profile players surely hoping to join the conversation next season, but don't sleep on Anthony Davis, who's rising up the ranks quickly.

Durant arrived to the NBA as a solid scorer with plenty of raw potential. He's developed into one of the most well-rounded players in the league without losing that natural scoring instinct, and he's been rewarded for that effort with the MVP award.

And there are probably more on the horizon

Bleacher Report

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