Golden State Warriors: Kevin Durant should be considered as a top MVP candidate

Golden State Warriors (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors has put his name into the MVP conversation with his play without Stephen Curry.

Rightfully so, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and James Harden have received high praise for the spectacular seasons they’ve had so far, but the Golden State Warriors‘ Kevin Durant is emerging as a top MVP candidate.

With MVP teammate Stephen Curry sidelined with a sprained right ankle, Durant has had to carry the scoring load and do more on the defensive end due to defensive stalwart Draymond Green also sidelined due to injury.

In the past five games without Curry, Durant is averaging 34.2 points per game, 10.4 rebounds per game and 7.4 assists on 50.1 percent from the field, 43.3 percent from the three point line and 96.5 percent from the free throw line. Those are gaudy numbers. MVP-type numbers the past five games.

Now, a five-game stretch doesn’t mean that you should get the MVP. Players have to play at an MVP-type level for the whole season. These past averages have raised his 2017-2018 season totals to 26.5 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game and 5.4 assists per game.

Let’s compare this season’s averages to Durant’s lone MVP season in 2013-2014. During that season, he averaged an absurd 32.0 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game and 5.5 assists per game on 50.3 percent from the field, including 39.1 percent from beyond the arc and 87.3 from the free-throw line.

In this sense, Durant is playing in this five-game stretch without Curry like he did in the 2013-2014 season because Russell Westbrook went down with an injury. My point being is that Durant has had to carry a load without a top talent right now and in his MVP season.

The Warriors offense is being run through Durant, getting several isolation post-ups and other sets to free him up for an open look. Even with another all-star in Klay Thompson on the court, the Warriors trust Durant to carry them through this rough patch of injuries with his all-world talent and experience of being the go-to guy when a star was out in Oklahoma City.

Even if Durant doesn’t shoot well for a game, he can still impose his will on the game by getting to the free-throw line and be another playmaker for Steve Kerr. His ability to shake off a rough shooting night and still come through in the clutch was on display in the Warriors’ 116-114 win over the Lakers on Monday night.

(via @drksportsnews)

In this play, Durant gets the switch he wants and waves Thompson to go away for an iso against Lonzo Ball and ends up hitting the Big Baller Bucket. Before the Warriors went into overtime with the Lakers, he shot 6-of-25 from the field, but ended up hitting all four of his shots in the extra period. He still finished with 36 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists on the night, despite the porous shooting performance. Durant is showing that killer instinct and that dominance reminiscent of his MVP season.

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Although it would be difficult to have voters put his name down as a first place finish on the MVP ballot because of Antetokounmpo, James and Harden, if he keeps playing the way he is when Curry comes back, Durant could very well have a “You’re the real MVP” speech part 2 at the end of the season.