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News » Here's a vote for Thunder's Durant

Here's a vote for Thunder's Durant

Here's a vote for Thunder's Durant
Two of the candidates for this year's Most Improved Player Award strutted their stuff inside the Ford Center on Sunday night, but neither Thunder forward Kevin Durant nor Indiana's Danny Granger will take home the hardware.

New Jersey point guard Devin Harris has all but accepted the trophy.

But he won't get my first-place vote. Durant will sit atop my three-man ballot even if he has no shot at victory.

That's because no player has improved across the board like Durant, who's gone from solid as a rookie to spectacular as a sophomore. His maturation, however, has become the untold story of the Thunder's dismal inaugural season in Oklahoma City.

Sunday night's 117-99 loss to the Pacers dropped the Thunder to 21-54, a record that hasn't given national writers any incentive to pay attention to the reigning Rookie of the Year.

But even in the backdrop, Durant has flourished beyond belief.

"He's shown as much improvement as anybody, if not more," said Granger, who scored a team-high 24 points Sunday and has seen his scoring average rise from 19.6 points to 25.3.

Durant has increased his averages in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. He's done so while becoming much more efficient, boosting his field-goal percentage from 43 percent to 48 percent and his 3-point percentage from 28.8 percent to 42.4 percent.

Durant also is the focal point of opposing teams' scouting reports. Granger is the only player in the running who faces similar challenges. But his rebounding is down and his assists are only slightly better than a year ago while his shooting percentages remain nearly identical.

Harris, meanwhile, has the help of Vince Carter. And although Harris has gone from 14.8 points per game to a 22-point scoring average, his efficiency has decreased from 46.3 percent to 44.1 percent. When Harris was at his best despite playing on a short leash in Dallas, he shot 49.2 percent from the field because of his driving ability. This year, he's gotten away from that, turning into more of the chucker that many knocked Durant for being last year.

Publicly, however, Durant says he doesn't deserve to be in the conversation, a similar stance to the modest statements he made earlier this season when asked about his All-Star chances.

"I think I've gotten better throughout the year, but I know there are guys that had a big jump from last season to this season," Durant said. "It's up in the air right now. But I wouldn't consider myself as the Most Improved.

"It'll be nice to win Rookie of the Year and then come back the next year and get Most Improved. It shows how much as an organization we pride ourselves on getting better and helping each other get better. But I'm not worried about it. That's not going to make me upset if I don't get Most Improved."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 9, 2009


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