Despite not having Kyrie Irving around, the Brooklyn Nets still sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with a 15-6 record through 21 games. That is, of course, thanks in no small part to the efforts and brilliance of one Kevin Wayne Durant.
It was announced that the Nets' MVP candidate is the KIA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for the period spanning October and November. Leading the NBA in scoring with 28.6 points per game to go along with 7.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game while routinely taking on tough defensive assignments, KD is defending a claim more and more of his peers have made as of late that Durant is the best player on the planet.
There has been some talk about KD's scoring burden and minutes total without Irving around. Nets coach Steve Nash has emphasized that the type of hoops he envisions his team playing does not rely completely on KD for buckets. He wants the team to play with pace, and move the ball back and forth from the strong to the weak side of the court to keep defenses guessing. The team doing that might even be Durant's best chance to win the MVP Award, somewhat counterintuitively.
The team has also indicated a desire to rest Durant more, who is playing his most minutes since the 2015-2016 regular season. But little appeals to them about playing him less and losing more.
KD doesn't seem too keen on resting more either:
"My basketball life is not that long so I wanna get the most out of it….I'm sure for the rest of the season I'm gonna try to sneak some of those 40 plus minute games in. Cause s–t, I like being out there."
Kevin Durant's love or the game comes out when asked about load mgmt. pic.twitter.com/cQ1NVCqOMQ
— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) December 1, 2021
Up there with Durant, boasting a legit a claim at our imaginary title of “world's best player” is reigning NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Before the season, some would certainly have made the case for The King himself, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, possibly Dallas Mavericks phenom Luka Doncic, or the defending regular-season MVP Nikola Jokic.
But perhaps many of us slept a little bit on two-time MVP Stephen Curry, who has pulled ahead of KD in the current 2022 MVP odds. Curry was just named the KIA Western Conference player of the Month. The three-time champion's Golden State Warriors are also the odds-on favorite to win the Western Conference despite the Phoenix Suns' franchise-record 18 game-winning streak.
For our money, Durantula is still the top gun right now. But we don't have to quibble. It's fun to appreciate the battle happening at the very top of the NBA.