Read on to find out how each player successfully reached the 30-plus point mark and how it can impact them going forward.
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F, Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant followed up his 12-straight, 30-plus point streak in January with a solid performance in the month of February. Durant had three different 40-point games, two of them without Russell Westbrook. Durant carried the Thunder while Westbrook suffered his injury, going 22-8 in his absence. The Slim Reaper had six 30-plus point games in February and in all six of those, he recorded a double-double. He came close to recording a triple-double in the Thunder’s 112-100 beatdown of the New York Knicks. In that game, Durant outscored fellow scoring champion Carmelo Anthony, 41-15. He tallied 43 points along with 12 rebounds at the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers and piled on 42 points and ten boards in the Thunder’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
For the month of February, Durant averaged 33.4 points.
Durant scores the majority of his points in the paint. According to NBA.com shot charts, he is shooting 65.7 percent inside the paint this season. Durant is second in the league in points per game on drives to the basket, scoring 6.1 points of the Thunder’s 8.1 a night, while shooting 39 percent from three-point range and 51 percent from the field.
He has shot the ball very well from long range and his midrange jumper is very consistent. His pull-up jumper is deadly. He averages 7.9 points a night off pull-up jumpers, third in the league.
Durant is looking to earn his first MVP title and he has a very good argument to beat out LeBron James. He displayed his talents with his scoring streak and is scoring a career-high 31.8 points a game this year. His 5.5 assists a night are a career-high as well and he kept the Thunder in first place in the Western Conference for a long stretch without Westbrook. I expect another 30-plus points per game month from Durant in March. Durant will need to continue to play at a high level night in and night out if he wants to win his first MVP.
F, Miami Heat
The King put his name right back in the hunt of the MVP race with his fantastic month of February. James had 30 points or more in seven of the nine games he played in and shot 57.5 percent from the field. He averaged 30.8 points a night and had three double-doubles. He hit a step-back three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Warriors on the road and had 36 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in that game.
The Heat were 9-1 in February and won nine straight until their loss to the Rockets this week. In his first game after breaking his nose against Oklahoma City, James scored 31 with his Batman mask on against the Knicks. James is looking to capture another MVP trophy and looks like he is kicking it into another gear at the right time.
There is nothing on the court that LeBron James cannot do. He can drive past you; back you down in the post; hit his pull-up jumper and knock down a three-ball in your face. However, where James excels is in the paint. Whether it is scoring in the low post, slamming home a monster jam or kissing one off the glass, James shoots 76 percent from inside the paint. He is actually better going to his left then he is his right. According to NBA.com shot charts, James is a much better shooter on the left side of the floor. He shoots his highest three-point percentage, 80 percent from the corner and 39 percent from the wing, on the left side of the floor. He is averaging 27.2 points a night this season, highest in his career with Miami. If James continues to surge the Heat back to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, we may be looking at the King bringing home his third straight MVP.
F, New York Knicks
Unfortunately for Carmelo Anthony, his great month of February was a disastrous month for the New York Knicks. He averaged 31.5 points per game in February, but didn’t help the Knicks playoff hopes. In a four-game stretch in February, Anthony scored 42, 44, 35 and 44 points that concluded in a 1-3 showing for the Knicks. Anthony had seven 30-plus point games in February but the Knicks were a horrendous 2-11.
Anthony is in the prime of his career and has done everything he can to try and help the Knicks win, including shooting 41 percent from three during the month with four double-doubles. He is a free agent at the end of the season and has a decision to make. Leaving the Knicks seems like the best possibility at winning a championship, and a team like the Chicago Bulls is one scorer away from contending for a championship. Staying in New York might mean Anthony will waste away his best years and have nothing to show for it.
Unlike Durant and James, Anthony excels most with his jump shot. He is shooting 42 percent from three, second best in his career. Incredibly, according to NBA.com shot chart, Anthony hits 50.9 percent of the three-pointers he takes from the top of the key and 47.5 from the left wing. When Anthony gets a straightaway look at the basket he is lethal. He is shooting 46.4 percent from the top of the free throw line and 53 percent from just below the charity stripe. Anthony is great in transition and loves to catch and shoot in rhythm when trailing the play.