6. KEVIN DURANT’s IMPROVED ALL-AROUND GAME
Speaking of the Thunder, how can we talk about them without talking about how much Kevin Durant has improved his game this season? We know he can score the ball with some of the best players in NBA history. He’s the youngest scoring champion ever and he’s done it three straight years, which is unprecedented for a player in his sixth year.
This year, the pressure isn’t on Durant to score but instead to do everything else. The Thunder don’t really need him scoring so much more than he already has – he’s averaging 25.4 points per game. He may not be leading the league in scoring, but he’s averaging 10.1 rebounds per game along with 4.7 assists and 1.3 blocks per game – all career high numbers for him.
He’s gaining an edge in all other facets of the game that aren’t scoring and that’s more important for the Thunder without James Harden. I’m sure that some of this is because Harden is off of the team, but the Thunder have to be thankful for the improvements Durant has made.
5. O.J. MAYO IS PLAYING OUT OF HIS MIND
O.J. Mayo is showing us a side of him that we haven’t seen since his high school days. He’s scoring 22.2 points per game, and is making us forget about his horrible seasons in Memphis. Mayo is shooting at a 50 percent clip right now and has a true shooting percentage of 65. That’s a ridiculous clip after shooting no higher than 55 percent (true shooting) during any of his seasons in Memphis.
I’m not really a Mayo fan, but he’s making even me eat crow. I didn’t expect him to perform very well after Memphis failed to extend him a qualifying offer. I thought he was going to be out of the NBA limelight fairly quickly. This rejuvenation, of sorts, is sparking Dallas. Their star player isn’t even back yet, so expect to see them in the postseason again once he does return.