The 2014 NBA MVP was Kevin Durant. But did it mean he’s the best player in the NBA? He certainly thinks so.
KD: “No disrespect to anyone else but I feel like I’m the best player in the world.”
— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) August 12, 2015
Durant would like to forget about his 2014-2015 season, a miserable follow up to the best season of his career. He played in just 27 games, with a Jones fracture in his right foot keeping him out of the early stages of the season, followed by a more serious toe injury later in the season which eventually caused him to be shut down. The Thunder, with just Westbrook leading the charge (also missed a big chunk of games early on) and other key players (Serge Ibaka) dropping like flies, missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and head coach Scott Brooks was fired.
Now Durant is healthy again, and feeling confident about taking the league back by storm. Remember when Derrick Rose made his first comeback in 2013? He said he feels like he’s the best player in the league. He also had an MVP season followed by one filled with injuries and eventually one big injury that took him out for a very long time.
With Durant and Westbrook healthy, there’s no reason not to consider the Thunder as championship contenders again, even though the Western conference has changed, bulking up with teams seeing themselves as good enough to go all the way, not to mention the defending champions, Golden State Warriors. The Thunder last made the finals in 2012, and the promise of winning multiple championships thanks to a young and super talented core hasn’t been fulfilled, with a different injury “excuse” coming up each season.
Even when Durant won the MVP, most people thought LeBron James was still the best player in the league. Stephen Curry and James Harden were the two leading vote getters in the MVP poll last season (Curry won it), but James is still the better player, at least when compared with them. Some even think he deserved the MVP, which is an award no is quite sure of its definition.
Durant, healthy, is the best scorer in the league, probably (because James usually doesn’t try to score as badly, although we saw different sides to him last season). But the best player? MVPs don’t make you the best in the league, as can be seen by Steve Nash winning the award twice. But Durant is quite close to that throne, although he’ll have to prove once again that he’s more than just a gifted scorer on an all-time level, but packing a few more things in his bag of tricks.