Kevin Durant needed to score 70 points tonight to beat out Carmelo Anthony for this year’s NBA scoring title. Let’s ignore the fact that he wouldn’t do it — remember, for all the talk about how great a scorer he is, KD has just two career 50-point games and his career-high (52) came earlier this year against Dallas (he also hasn’t even scored 40 since a February 14 loss to Miami) — and instead focus on what we’re missing out on.
After averaging a ridiculous 36.9 points a night in April, Anthony is dropping 28.7 points to Durant’s 28.1. Does that make him a better scorer? Well, ‘Melo was unstoppable over the last month, shooting nearly 54 percent and scoring at least 36 in all but two games. But over the course of the entire season, Durant played 14 more games and took 53 less shots. He shot 51 percent from the floor; ‘Melo shot just below 45 percent. Durant hit over 41 percent of his triples and 90 percent of his freebies. Anthony was at 38 and 83 percent. Statistically, it’s been an incredible year for Durant, nearly winning the scoring race while hitting the elusive 50-40-90 club. The 6-10 forward didn’t even lead his team in shot attempts — Russell Westbrook took 1,530 shots, nearly 100 more than KD.
No one is hating on Anthony for winning the scoring title, not after watching him light it up over the second half of the season. It’s just that Durant brewed something special this year, a unique ability to score major numbers without the typical dip in efficiency or need to dominate the basketball. Plus, all the cards were set up for an epic finish. Both teams are scheduled to play at 8 p.m. ET tonight (OKC is hosting Milwaukee and the Knicks are at home for Atlanta), a spectacular coincidence we were looking forward to for weeks. Instead, the race stalled before the finish line over the past few days, and then Durant admitted on Instagram this morning that he won’t be suiting up.
Would we have gotten another performance like David Robinson gave us on the last day of the 1993-94 season, beating out Shaq for the title by dropping 71 points? Would we have seen another back-n-forth shootout like the one from that capped the 1978-79 season when David Thompson (73 points) was clipped for the title by George Gervin (63 points later that night)? I doubt it. But it’s not about what would’ve happened. It’s about what could’ve happened, and fans will feel cheated.
You can’t hate Durant for not going for it. Then again, you can’t love him for it either.
Should he have gone for the scoring title?
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