Kevin Durant missed out on his 4th consecutive NBA scoring title to Carmelo Anthony, who edged Durant 28.7 ppg to 28.1. And that's the only statistical category where Melo topped the former Longhorn, unless you count historical petulance. Durant needed 70 points in his final game of the season to take the title and the Thunder opted to rest him for the playoffs instead. The only game he has missed this season.
Other interesting tidbits:
- In April, Carmelo Anthony hoisted 26.5 shots per game to Durant's 16 (Durant still averaged 26.1 ppg and 6.4 apg in that month; Carmelo averaged 2.1 assists per game in that stretch). Someone wanted a scoring title, didn't they?
- For the year, Durant sat out a league leading 14 4th quarters - eliminating his NBA best 4th quarter scoring average of 8.8 points per
This was Durant's best all-around season as a pro, and if not for the presence of the incomparable Lebron James, he'd be the runaway favorite for NBA MVP.
This year, Durant has taken enormous strides as an all-around facilitator (averaging 4.6 assists per game), is now actually an underrated defender (OKC is the 4th ranked defensive team in the NBA, Durant is in the top 30 in the league in both blocks and steals), is elite in transition both as a finisher and initiator, and he is the Thunder's leading rebounder (7.9 rpg).
What has been most impressive is Durant's pure offensive efficiency, despite the loss of James Harden to the Rockets and a paucity of complementary shooters around him. And Scott Brooks drawing up his plays. He finished the year in the rarified air of the 50/40/90 club (>50% from the field, >40% from 3, >90% from FT line). For some context, only six players in NBA history have managed that feat. KD shot a sizzling 51% from the field, despite a significant amount of his offense occurring 15-25 feet away from the basket (for comparison, Carmelo Anthony shot 44.9%). And Durant led the NBA in free throwing shooting percentage.
Durant's improvements as a NBA player have been remarkable and, in his 6th season, we're watching one of the 20 greatest players to ever play the game of basketball.
And he's 24 years old.