Still weeks away from crowning this year’s MVP, the league has LeBron James sitting atop the pecking order once again. Tired of being the NBA’s second fiddle, Kevin Durant looked like he was finally getting his due as he led MVP chatter up until January. Then James came alive. After a few nights of “Momma, there goes that Masked Man” showings, capped by LeGend’s 61-point game, the buzz is back with ‘Bron. But, XN Sports argues that the sentiment is all wrong: Kevin Durant is your 2013-14 MVP.
Firstly, on the most basic terms, LeBron just hasn’t been as consistent as Durant has been all year. James is good enough to coast at times and still be in the 99th percentile but not with Durant at his current form. And consistency is such a heavy issue when it comes to doling out the award.
Many argue that LeBron has been able to do more with a roster of aging bodies, but, it’s no easier for Durant to be leading a group of youngsters through a much more cutthroat conference. Both players have been without their star sidekick, but, even in that realm, Durant deserves more praise.
Dwyane Wade has played 43 games to Westbrook’s 32. Averaging 33.3 Minutes Per Game to Westbrook’s 31.4, that means that James has seen 1,431.9 minutes of Wade on the court while Durant has only been helped by Westbook for 1,004.8.’s worth That’s a sea of difference. Westbrook certainly has better numbers (21.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 7.0 APG; Wade is at 19.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.9 APG), so it can be argued that when healthy he’s contributed more to Durant’s success, by that token it means that without him, Durant has had to carry a heavier load. When looking at their NetRatings (Wade: 7.4; Westbrook: 7.3) and Player Impact Estimate (Wade: 14.6%; Westbrook: 15.4%), Westbrook still looks to be the better player. So, Durant has been without a more impactful player, who contributes in greater heaps across more stat categories, for a longer period of time.
Then we get into the personal impact. The man-to-man analysis. In that, Durant, too, has LeBron trailing.
To illustrate the dominance, we’re going to list every category in which Durant has LeBron beat (as recorded by Basketball Reference).
Points Per Game: 31.8 > 27.2
Rebounds Per Game 7.7 > 6.9
Blocks Per Game 0.8 > 0.3
Three-Pointers Made 2.2 > 1.5
Three-Point Percentage 39.4 > 37.4
Free Throws Made 8.6 > 5.7
Free-Throw Percentage 87.5 > 74.6
(And the advanced stats):
PER: 30.4 > 29.8
Win Shares: 15.0 > 12.1
Win Shares/48 .307 > .274
Offensive Win Shares: 11.4 > 9.6
Defensive Win Shares: 3.6 > 2.5
Offensive Rating: 123 > 122
Defensive Rating: 102 > 105
And the list goes on.
Certainly, LeBron is no slouch as he has Durant beat in the assists, steals, field goal percentage, and turnovers departments (among others) but the Slim Reaper leads in the areas most often equated with greatness.
To cap off Durant’s MVP dominance, he has also posted better numbers against tougher opponents. As the strength of schedule chart from Houston Rockets analyst Ed Kupfer shows—and which we also used for our Wizards fantasy breakdown—OKC has had a much harder schedule to get through than Miami. That means that not even a reduced quality of opponents has allowed LeBron to leapfrog Durant.
As the numbers show, it’s time to hail king Kevin Durant as our new MVP.