Last night while we were recording the next episode of the podcast (subscribe!), Joel and I got into an extended conversation about the N.B.A. Playoffs, much to the chagrin of Monica, who was in the discussion with us, and Shani who was our audio person, as it were. (As Shani is wont to say at such moments: “Gooooo SPORTS!”) A lot of the conversation centered around Kevin Durant, whose Oklahoma City Thunder has been giving the Lakers work this postseason. It’s probably a testament to how many great players are currently active in the League right now, but Durant has just put together a truly epic offensive season — 30 PPG, 48% from the field, 37% from deep, and 90% from the line (plus 7 boards for good measure) for a 50-win team, and wasn’t really in the discussion for MVP. I can only think of a few players who could put together that kind of campaign: Jordan/Kobe, if they upped their shooting from the charity stripe (and Jordan took/made threes at a higher clip), Ray Allen circa his best Sonics days, and Larry Bird. Those guys are all Hall of Famers.
“And he’s 21!” we said in unison. This cat isn’t even close to his prime yet, weighs about 45 lbs. with rocks in his pocket, doesn’t really know all the little tricks to becoming a more efficient scorer — though he gets to the line at an impressive rate — and is close to having the most dynamic offensive repertoire in the N.B.A. already. (I mean, it depends on how you choose to categorize LeBron’s LeBron-ness. It’s not a skill in the strictest sense, in that being a very fast, very agile, very athletic human being who has the rough physical dimensions of a Kodiac bear isn’t really some shit that can be learned.) You should not be 6’9 and crossing people over.