TUESDAY, 10:07am: The league has officially named Durant the MVP, announcing the news in a press release and on its website. He garnered 119 first-place votes, with James collecting the other six. Blake Griffin was third in the voting, followed by Joakim Noah and James Harden. Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com was the only voter not to have James and Durant in his top two, voting for Durant, Griffin, and James, in that order.
SATURDAY, 7:36pm: Kevin Durant will be named the league MVP early next week, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. After running neck and neck with LeBron James for much of the year, Durant became the heavy favorite to win the award down the stretch. James’ MVP streak will come to an end at two.
Durant led the league with 32 points per game and a PER of 29.8, scoring at a high volume with a remarkably efficient .503/.391/.873 slash line. The Thunder have relied on “KD” to carry them this season, as fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook‘s knee issues caused him to miss nearly half of Oklahoma City’s season. Durant was up to the task, turning in career high averages in points, assists (5.5) and PER to go along with 7.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals a contest.
In a season filled with highlight performances and memorable clutch moments, Durant established himself as LeBron’s only peer. Durant exceeded Michael Jordan‘s best streak of consecutive 25-point games with 41, and upped the expectations for his team along with his own production. The Thunder made the 2011/12 Finals–the last time Westbrook was healthy for the postseason–and Durant’s improvement has heightened Oklahoma City’s championship hopes. At the time of this news breaking, Durant is trying to avoid a disappointing finish to the season. The Thunder will need to win their game 7 matchup with the Grizzlies to keep Durant from becoming the first MVP to accept his trophy after a first round exit since Dirk Nowitzki in 2007.