Somehow I can see people trying to spin this into another sign that Kevin Durant walks on water and LeBron James is a horrible person, but here it goes.
The MVP race is down to James and Durant — and Durant think LeBron should win it, he told the Oklahoman.
“He deserves all the love (for MVP),” said Thunder forward Kevin Durant. “He’s playing phenomenal basketball. I’m just trying to get better every single game and trying to help my team as much as I can. I’m just blessed to be in that conversation.”
Both Durant and LeBron have had fantastic seasons on the offensive end. LeBron is scoring 26.9 points per game on 52.8 percent shooting, with 8 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. Durant is at 27.8 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting with 7.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. To me the difference is that LeBron contributes more on the defensive end for his team.
If you want a candidate outside those two, Tony Parker and Chris Paul should have their names in the conversation. It’s not happening but they should.
As for my first paragraph comment, I’ll just say this — after the Thunder lost to the Clippers last week the team flew to Arizona and had the next day off. Durant wanted to blow off steam and tweeted a photo and comment about being at a casino there at five in the morning. The general reaction? No biggie, he’s just blowing off steam. Which is true and fine. But if that had been LeBron in the exact same situation…
It’s going to come down to LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant.
That is your MVP race and it is going to be close. Chris Tomasson at Fox Sports Florida decided to ask 11 former MVPs who would get their vote. Fun idea.
Durant won five votes to four (with two abstentions).
“I think that this year’s MVP award will end up in the hands of Kevin Durant,’’ Abdul-Jabbar said of the Oklahoma City forward. “Durant is my choice as front-runner due to the success of his team. Yes, he is on a young and talented team, but his presence has been the catalyst for their recent dominance.’’
For a dissenting opinion…
“There’s no question LeBron deserves the MVP, with his performance playing a complete game and for a successful team,’’ said Hakeem Olajuwon, the 1994 winner for Houston. “When you look at his contribution to his team and their record, there’s no question he deserves it.’’
I personally lean toward LeBron, but I think the final voting will go a lot like this poll — close but with a slight edge to Durant. While LeBron has had the better statistical season, Durant has a better narrative and his team and person are just better liked in general.
It is close. LeBron is scoring 26.9 points per game on 52.8 percent shooting, with 8 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. He has a league best PER of 30.5 and he contributes more on defense than does Durant. Not that Durant is putting up shabby numbers — 27.8 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting with 7.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and a PER of 26.7.
I don’t think Durant is a bad choice, I just think LeBron has had the better season and done more for his team at both ends of the floor. But when you ask people who write stories for a living to vote, the guy with the better narrative wins whether or not he is the better statistical choice. Ask Derrick Rose.
It’s time for the annual cry for transparency in the NBA’s MVP voting.
Because if you’re a media member with an MVP vote, you should be able to defend your choices. If you are one of the seven people who did not vote Derrick Rose first, you should be able to explain that. And for the one person who put Kobe Bryant first, we’d really like to hear that explaination.
Or, if you were the person who put Blake Griffin third, we’d all love to hear how you got there.
But the biggest mistake this year — nine voters did not have LeBron James on any of their five votes. (Piston Powered noticed first on twitter, via Tom Ziller.)
If you had an MVP ballot (we didn’t) you have to fill in spots one through five. Nine people did not think LeBron James qualified in the top five in the MVP voting. LeBron who averaged 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7 assists per game not in the top 5. Did they see the Cavaliers drop off? The Heat’s improvement? Whether you count MVP as best player, most valuable to team, best player on a good team — whatever your criteria James is in your Top 5.
Dwight Howard was left off two ballots, I’d be curious to hear the logic there, too. Kobe Bryant was left of 17.
The argument that this should be a secret ballot so you can vote how your really feel holds no weight — this is MVP of the NBA, not president. This is sports, it’s not really important. We discuss and argue sports all the time. You should be able to defend your logic. Really, you should be able to defend your political votes, too, but one hurdle at a time.