After getting the better of LeBron James in the 4th quarter again, Kevin Durant and the Warriors now have the best record in the NBA (27-7), have surged to the #1 spot in point differential (+9.9), and also have climbed to the top spot in the defensive efficiency rankings.
Amazingly, they’ve accomplished this with the best point guard in the NBA, Stephen Curry, nursing an ankle injury. Curry is expected back in a week or so. Fully healthy, the best team in the NBA is back on track to win its 3rd NBA title in four years.
Also true: Kevin Durant is building quite the MVP resume, but for the first time in his career, he’s doing it on the defensive end. Durant leads the NBA in blocked shots (67) and is second in blocks per game (2.31).
Let’s quickly take a look at how Durant’s MVP year (2013-2014) compares to this year. First, offensive:
2013-2014: 50/39/87 32 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 5.5 apg
2017-2018: 50/37/88 26.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 5.1 apg
But Jason, his numbers are worse! Well, he played 38.5 minutes per game in his MVP season. He’s at 34.8 minutes per game this year. He led the NBA in minutes played in his MVP season. If you look at his PER 36 Minutes numbers, they’re much closer:
MVP Year: 29.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 5.1 apg
This Year: 27.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 5.3 apg
Curious what the advanced stats say? Kevin Durant led the NBA in PER when he won MVP (29.90). This year, he’s only 12th (24.86).
Defensively is where he’s made the most strides. Durant has never been 1st or 2nd team All-Defense in his career. Where he’s sacrificing at the offensive end on arguably the greatest team in NBA history, Durant has made up for defensively, where he’s a legitimate rim protector. We saw him make strides last year, when he had the 2nd most blocks of his career (99).
Durant is already one of the most gifted NBA scorers of all-time. In Golden State, he’s become one of the most clutch scorers in the NBA. Going to the Warriors was the best move for his career – he’s going to win titles, he’s playing with unselfish players in the best system in the NBA, and he’s able to focus on areas of his games that were lacking. Like defense. Durant’s well-rounded game is going to put him among the Top 10 players in NBA history by the time his career is over.