Fantasy Basketball 2014: Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge Lead MVP Race

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

 

A few years back, when I was in high school, my class attended a Philadelphia 76ers game towards the end of the season. It was a really fun time, but me, not being a Sixers fan, I was more intrigued with the guy on the other side of the court.

Kevin Durant.

KD finished with a gaudy 34 points, 16 rebounds, two assists and a block. However, what I remember most, is toward the end of the game, Durant was heading to the free throw line to put the game away. Appreciating how good he is, I began the infamous “MVP” chant as he approached the charity stripe. It spread out a bit, but all in all, it was a fail. Still, it was an awesome moment, and fans have been doing it for as long as I can remember. Fast forward to 2014 and Durant deserves much more than the chant.

He deserves the award.

Martin Luther King Day was yesterday, which signifies just about the halfway point of the NBA season. I’ve seen a handful of fantasy awards columns being written, and I wanted to focus in solely on the MVP award. My two leading candidates are not only my top fantasy MVP candidates, but real life MVP as well. Let’s start with the league’s most dominant scorer, Kevin Durant.

The consensus number one pick in fantasy, Durant is currently living up to the hype, leading the league in scoring with 30.6 points per game. He’s also adding 5.1 assists, 7.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals and two triples per contest. No surprise, he’s the top option on ESPN’s Player Rater. You know you are pretty darn good when you score 30 points and your scoring average for the month of January goes DOWN a bit. His month of January alone has me sold on him as the MVP. During this month, he’s averaging an insane 36.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.8 steals per contest. Durant has now scored at least 30 points in seven consecutive games, and has seen his fantasy numbers spike upward with Russell Westbrook sidelined with injury. On the year, KD is averaging a league-leading 51.3 fantasy points per contest, and out of his 41 games played, only eight times has he posted less than 40 fantasy points. His 19.6 field goal attempts per game rank third-most in the NBA (LeBron is jealous), but his efficiency has been there all season long.

KD is clearly above the rest of the pack when it comes to the fantasy elite, but a certain Trail Blazer isn’t too far off.

Not many players in the league excite me more than LaMarcus Aldridge. He’s so consistent, so good and is the reason Portland has one of the best records in the NBA. It’s not difficult to realize he’s having the best statistical season of his career, sporting career highs in points (24.1), rebounds (11.5) and assists (2.9). Aldridge is averaging over two more points per game and rebounds per game than his previous career highs. Aldridge is averaging 70.1 offensive touches per game, which is very strong for a big man, ranking inside the top-50 in the league. He’s also logging 36.9 minutes per game (10th-most) and quietly, leading all of basketball in field goal attempts per game, coming in at a strong 21. And his 9.9 elbow touches per game (LA’s bread and butter) ranks 5th-most in basketball, which means not only is Portland getting him the ball at a high rate, but they are getting him the ball where he has a strong chance to score. The combination of rebounds and points have been so consistent, as Aldridge ranks 7th in the league in double-doubles (25) and he’s posted double-digit rebounds in 25 of his 41 games this year.

I think Durant is the clear-cut favorite to win the award because he is putting up insane numbers (see 54-point performance), but Aldridge really isn’t that far off at all. Both are on their way to career season, both are carrying the load for two of the top teams in the Western Conference and both are just really, really good.

Can you really go wrong?

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.


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