Fantasy Basketball MVP: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant
If you think that the regular season NBA Most Valuable Player award is a tricky, back-and-forth debate, you’ll for sure be intrigued by the fantasy basketball version. While Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and James Harden have put their names in the conversation, there are two players that are clearly ahead of the pack in the race for the fantasy basketball MVP crown in 2013. Thanks to the NBA’s schedule makers, we got to see both of them in action against each other last night.
Oklahoma City Thunder starting small forward and current NBA scoring leader, Kevin Durant, is the first of the two I speak of. Durant is having the best season of his six-year career in 2013. Durant is single-handedly winning his owners FT percentage week-in and week-out, shooting about 91 percent on a ridiculous 9.3 FTAs per game. His FG percentage on the season is almost as dominant, as it is about 52 percent on an average of 18.1 FGAs per game.
On top of his elite percentages and NBA-leading scoring, Durant fills that box score daily as he averages 7.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.9 3PTMs, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. You literally could not ask Durant to do any more for your squad. His current PER at the All-Star break is good for second in the league at 29.2.
Which brings us to the current PER leader, Miami Heat starting point-forward, and reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, LeBron James. LeBron currently leads all NBA players with a PER of 31.4, while the average player’s PER is 15.
En route to obtaining the league leading PER, LeBron has averaged 27.3 points on 18.4 FGAs per game while shooting 56.5 percent from the field. Having LeBron on your squad wins you FG percentage weekly. His other stats are good enough that you’d pick up a player averaging them while also averaging much less points per game.
Let’s look at LeBron’s stats other than his FG percentage and points per game. He is posting 8.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks, 1.4 3PTMs and 74.5 percent from the charity stripe.
Both of these freaks of nature have been on another planet all season. So what else could we expect when the NBA decided to feature their teams on a nationally televised game the night before the All-Star break, other than fireworks and fantasy basketball platinum?
The game started off completely one-sided for LeBron and the Miami Heat. Durant started the game going 2-10, and didn’t hit his first field goal of the game until 4:14 remaining in the half. Subsequently, the Miami Heat led 63-46, as LeBron had a line of 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists at half.
In the second half, Durant turned it up and brought the Thunder back into the game. Durant went 10-14 in the second half, finishing with a line of 40 points (12-24 FG), eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and three blocks.
LeBron finished with a line of 39 points on 14-24 shooting (58.33 percent from the field), 12 rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Credit to the trio of Thabo Sefolosha, Durant and Russell Westbrook for holding LeBron down defensively as his streak of six straight games of 30+ points with a FG percentage over 60 percent came to a halt.
In reference to LeBron’s streak, he actually gave it away with about one minute left in the game, as he threw up a deep three with four seconds left on the shot clock. LeBron has repeatedly said he doesn’t care for individual accolades, and that shot late in the fourth with Miami up double digit points cements that sentiment.
Would KD have taken that shot? In an interview with the Daily Thunder earlier this week, Durant’s answer then probably answers my question above. “It depends on what I’m shooting from the field,” and “…it depends on how the game’s going.”
Let’s get one thing straight, if you have either Durant or James on your fantasy basketball squad with even the shallowest of depth behind them, your team is in great shape. I’m elated with having either of these beasts on my teams. You simply cannot say a bad thing about either in terms of their fantasy basketball production.
But in the fantasy basketball world, a defined king is needed. At this point, if LeBron continues to play with the tenacity we’ve seen over the last few weeks, nobody in the NBA—not even Durant—has a chance to match his production.
LeBron, I crown thee king.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @Jewish_Jeff