Putting Kevin Durant’s January in Perspective

Jan 27, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) is congratulated by Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Jeremy Lamb (11) and Oklahoma City Thunder center Hasheem Thabeet (34) after defeating the Atlanta Hawks at Chesapeake Energy Arena.The Thunder won by a score of 111-109. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

To be honest, I don’t even know where to start. Kevin Durant has me at a loss for words. Just when you think things couldn’t get much better for the 25-year-old, this happens:

In the past no one could seriously debate KD versus LeBron James. While Durant had LeBron beat in certain areas, every reasonable NBA fan knew who the better player was. The debate about the two was, well, just that–a method to create controversy. Now, as Durant begins capping off a historic January, the KD versus LeBron debate starts being taken more seriously.

If you are eating or drinking something while reading this, I advise you to stop. This next sentence might make you spit out your food or drink.

  • 36.5 points, 6.2 assists, and 6.4 rebounds per game

That reflects Durant’s stat line in the month of January. Amazing, no doubt. This run is beginning to put Durant in the same league Kobe Bryant/LeBron James/Michael Jordan. Notice I say beginning. While Durant’s run is historic, there have been better 10 or 15 game spans over the last 10 years. If Durant wants to be in the same group as the players mentioned above, he has to be willing to endure the same level of expectation. Durant, get prepared to be humbled.

Jun 5, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (left) talks with shooting guard Tracy McGrady during practice for game one of the 2013 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The first player we can examine is Tracy McGrady. McGrady isn’t even on the same level as Kobe and LeBron, but even he has had better stretches than KD. In February 2003, T-Mac averaged 34.9 points, 6.7 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game. What did T-Mac do for an encore? How about 36.5 points, 6.3 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game in March. Yeah, so over a two-month span T-Mac averaged better than 35/6/6.
T-Mac wasn’t the most efficient player during this stretch, but I mean with the talent around him in Orlando it was almost impossible to be.

Jan 13, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Amar

Sometimes I feel bad for Amar’e Stoudemire but then I look up his contract and remember why I shouldn’t. Surprisingly, Amare was living up to his max deal before injuries began derailing the All-Star big man. In December 2010, Amar’e went a whole month nearly averaging 30 and 10! His 29.8 points and 9.7 rebounds per game went along with 2.7 blocks and 1.1 steals. Not only was he was getting it done at both ends of the court, but he was also doing it efficiently. He shot 53.6 percent from the field. Over a 16-game stretch between the months of November and December, Amare averaged 30.25 points and 10 rebounds per game. That’s what I call great.

Jan 27, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts after defeating the Atlanta Hawks at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder won by a score of 111-109. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

By no means am I trying to discredit Durant. I wrote this piece to help put Durant’s run in perspective. Players like T-Mac and Amare have had great stretches and careers, but they were never the best player in the NBA. It takes sustained success to be in the conversation. Durant has slowly built that. He has gotten so good, that he is being compared to the likes of Kobe and Lebron. He is going to start enduring those elite expectations. Every analyst will start nitpicking his game because he has set the bar so high. He is no Kobe or even Lebron yet, but if he keeps this up and backs his play in the postseason he will certainly join the conversation.



Topics: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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