Call him what you want to call him — KD, Durantula, KSmooove or my personal favorite Kid Delicious. No matter how you spell it it always reads ‘points’. Durant is going to get his and there isn’t much a defender can do to stop him. Despite the slow start to the season, Durant is well on his way to his second NBA scoring title in just as many years.
While Durant’s numbers are all down from last year, the kid is still putting on an offensive showcase every night. For the season, Kevin is averaging 29.1 points per game on 47.4% from the field, 34.5% from three and 87.9% from the line. Last year KD was putting up 30.1 points per game on 47.6%/36.5%/90.0% shooting.
One key stat that sticks out is that both his Free Throw Attempts and FT% have fallen. Last year Durant was taking 10.2 FTs/Gm and making 9.2 of them. This year he is 8.8/9.1. Some of this is due to his shot selection. Last season Durant took 5.3 shots per game at the rim, converting on 3.7 of them, good for 69.8%. This season, his percentages are up at the rim to 78.6% but he is taking only 3.9 FGA/GM — making 3.1 of them. Like wise, he has taken less shots from 15 feet and in this season compared to last season — 4.9 FGA/Gm last season vs. 4.2 FGA/Gm this season — and is shooting a lower percentage — 46.9% vs. 45.2% this season. What Durant has done is increase the number of threes he takes a game from 4.3 3pA/GM to 5.3 3PA/Gm while shooting a lower percentage.
Still, Durant’s overall numbers have been solid and he still leads the NBA in scoring. With the way the rest of the field has been playing over the last couple of weeks, it seems like Durant will successfully defend his scoring crown.
Currently, six players — not including Durant — are averaging over 25 points per game (see chart below for details).
Of those six players, Amar’e has the best shot at catching Durant. But to even call it a chance is a stretch. Amar’e will have to up his scoring average, which is currently at 26.2-ppg, by 5.2 points per game just to match Durant’s scoring average. This might have seemed feasible a month ago when Amar’e and his Knicks were tearing through the NBA. But over the last month of action, Amar’e scoring average has been sinking almost as fast as the Knicks record. Since January 13th, Stoudemire has been averaging 25.6-ppg and the Knicks have lost 10 of 15.
All of the players who had caught fire last month were doused by a fire extinguisher this month. Only Carmelo and LeBron are scoring above their season averages over the last month worth of games and even they haven’t increased their scoring enough to challenge Durant. As the rest of the field has cooled off, Durant continues to torch the twine. Kevin’s 30.5 points per game in February is only second to Carmelo’s 32.8ppg.
On average, each player was going to have to increase their scoring per game by 8.6 points to just match Kevin Durant’s output for the season. The low was a 5.2 point increase (Amar’e) and the high was 14.4 ppg increase (Carmleo). Everyone on this list would have to average at least 31.4 points per game to close out the season and no one is even close to what they need. Carmelo, who’s been blistering as of late with 32.8 ppg in February would need to average 39.5 ppg for the rest of the season. That’s how far ahead Durant is in this race. This years scoring title is a one man race.
Barring some kind of catastrophic injury to Durant or a dry spell equal to the one that started the American dust bowl, it is safe to say that Durant will take home the scoring title for the second consecutive season.
The 30/30 Club:
Durant has all but secured his 2010-11 scoring title and will become one of 11 players to have won the scoring title in consecutive years. But there is another illustrious club that Durant may be able to join; The 30/30 Club. This 30/30 doesn’t refer to one of Kevin Love’s box scores, it is a group of individuals who have managed to average 30 points per game in consecutive seasons.
While Durant isn’t quite there yet — averaging just 29.1 points per game — he has turned up the jets in the last two months, averaging 30.5 points per game in January and a scorching 31.2 points per game over the last month of play. Still, he will need to burn a little hotter to close out the season if he wants to finish with an average of 30 ppg. If he maintains an average of 31.2 ppg for the rest of the season, he will finish just short of 30 with 29.9 ppg.
Averaging 30 points a game for an entire NBA season is already a grueling task, one that’s only been accomplished 77 times by 30 different players. (Jordan x 8, Chamberlain x 7, Robertson x 6, Barry x 4, Dantley x 4, West x 4, Iverson x 4, Abdul-Jabbar x 3, Baylor x 3, Bryant x 3, McAdoo x 3, James x 2, Gervin x 2, Wilkins x 2, Archibald, Bellamy, Erving, Free, Hawkins, Issel, King, K. Malone, M. Malone, Maravich, McGrady, Pettit, Scott, Twyman, Wade, and Durant.) Only 13 of those 30 have averaged 30 points per game in two or more seasons and of those 13 players, only 11 of them (pictured above) have done it in consecutive years: Chamberlain (59-66), Baylor (60-63), Robertson (60-62, 63-67), West (64-66), Barry (66-69), Abdul-Jabbar (70-73), McAdoo (73-76), Dantley (80-84), Iverson (01-03, 04-06), Bryant (05-07), Jordan (86-93).
One of the reasons that membership into this club is so limited is that when a player shows the league that he can score at such a high volume, coaches begin to game plan to stop said player. Those 30-ppg usually represent a large percentage of the opponents points so if you can stop or slow down that individual player, you will essentially beat that team.
Last season Durant was the youngest player to win a scoring title and one of only two players 21 years old or younger to average 30 points or more per game (the other being LeBron James). This season, Kevin Durant has the opportunity to be the only player in NBA history to rack up two 30-ppg seasons before his 23rd birthday.
While the chase for this years scoring title is all but over, the race for the history books has just begun.
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)