The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Atlanta Hawks for their eighth straight victory, while Kevin Durant exploded for his fifth 40-plus-point game in the month of January. Durant also became the first NBA player since Shaquille O’Neal to go for 11-straight games with 30 or more points while shooting 54 percent or more. If anyone was confused about who is leading the MVP race, those people should now be sold on Durant being the leader of the pack. The award is his to lose, and it will be hard for that to happen, especially after such an amazing month of basketball.
The common belief is that his production will slip once Russell Westbrook gets back, but I believe it will improve his all around stats, including rebounds and assists. Durant put a triple-double up just two games ago in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Once Westbrook returns, he can focus more on the other strong points of his games and that will produce more triple-doubles, which are better than 30- and 40-point games in my opinion.
At the end of the day, wins are more important than personal stats. The Thunder will only continue to improve and they’re already No. 1 in most power rankings. This team will be incredibly scary to deal with for any team, including the league’s most elite squads. The improvement of Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb has given OKC another dimension aside from Serge Ibaka‘s presence on both ends of the floor, and the development of Steven Adams. The Thunder could be considered to be the best team the world has seen since the Los Angeles Lakers‘ dynasty led by Shaq and Kobe Bryant. We know how great those Lakers teams were, and OKC could end their year being considered to be on their level. Still, they have a long way to go, but the potential for such greatness is there.
Whenever you have a potential MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year on your team, then you are going to make waves no matter how good the competition is. Not to mention you have one of the best point guards in the league on the shelf. There is no doubt that this Thunder team is the best team the organization has had since their days as the Seattle SuperSonics back in the mid-1990s. They’re confident, dangerous and only getting better. This is their year and their championship aspirations are more realistic than they have ever been, and we are not even halfway through the season.