By: Jacob Rogovin
The Most Valuable Player Award, better known as the MVP, is a yearly award given to the player with the best season in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The first ever NBA MVP award was given to Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks in the 1955-56 season. This year two players have pulled ahead and are the frontrunners for MVP. There is Kevin Durant, the forward of the Oklahoma City Thunder and LeBron James of the Miami Heat. This year will mostly like turn out to be one of the closest MVP races seen in decades. There is almost nothing to separate the two best players in the league.
Durant is having yet another great season as he is leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the best record in the Western Conference. For all of Durant’s career fans have been criticizing him saying that he can only score. This year he is proving them wrong as he is averaging 7.7 rebounds per game and 5.5 assist per game. However, his scoring did not decline as he is scoring a league leading 31.7 points per game. Durant played his best basketball without the Thunder’s second best player, Russell Westbrook. When Westbrook went down on Christmas day with a knee injury, Durant went on a tear averaging 35.9 points per game in the month of January. If one polled basketball fans at the end of January asking people who they thought the MVP was going to be, most people would have said Durant.
The defending MVP, James, is doing what the sports world expects him to do as he goes for his third MVP in a row. James is fighting to lead the Miami Heat past the Indiana Pacers for the best record in the Eastern Conference, as the Miami Heat are now second. James is once again filling up the stat sheet as he is averaging 27.4 points a game, which is third best in the league, 6.9 rebounds a game, and 6.4 assists a game. James’ efficiency is at a career best for him as he is fourth in the league in shooting percentage, making 58.2 percent of the shots he takes. In response to Durant’s great January, James turned up his game in February scoring 30.8 points per game. One of James’ greatest games of the year so far was when he scored 61 points against the Bobcats on March third. He not only broke a personal best for points scored in a single game, but he also broke the franchise record for points in a single game.
At this point in the season, either of these two players is well deserving of the MVP award, and there is little to no separation between the two. Durant has the edge in scoring and rebounding but James has the edge in defense, assists, and shooting percentage. The last 6 weeks of the regular season will be a very interesting one as the world looks to see who pulls away in one of the closest races the league has seen in a long time.