Oklahoma City, OK, United States (4E Sports) – As expected, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant bagged this season’s NBA MVP trophy, ending Miami Heat’s LeBron James’ two-year reign.
Durant, who won this season’s scoring title for the fourth time in five seasons (32 points per game), captured 119 of 125 first-place votes (and 1,232 voting points).
Durant’s seventh season was his best year as a playmaker as he averaged a career-high 5.5 assists per game and showed tremendous improvement on the defensive end, helping the Thunder to fifth place in defensive rating, allowing 101 points per 100 possessions.
Despite the extended absence of co-star and point guard Russell Westbrook due to a knee injury, Durant carried a heavier load than ever for months at a time, helping the Thunder finish second in the Western Conference at 59-23.
James finished second in the voting, receiving six first-place votes and 891 points. Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin finished third in the MVP voting (434 points), while Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah finished fourth (322 points) and Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden fifth (85 points).
“It’s great,” said James, who had won the award in each of the last two seasons and in four of the last five. “Every night you know you stack up against the best and you want to see what you can no matter if you’re playing against him or not.
“KD’s had one hell of a year, both offensively, the streak he was one with the 25-plus, 30-plus and all across the board. … Kudos to him, much respect to him and he deserves it. He had a big-time MVP season,” he added.
Had James won this season, it would have been the first time in league history that a player won five times in the span of six seasons and would have made him won of four players to win the award at least five times (joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell).