Kevin Durant won’t play tonight, which means Carmelo Anthony wins the NBA scoring title by default.
The Oklahoma City Thunder play the Milwaukee Bucks this evening in the final game of the regular season. With 60 wins (the team’s best-ever season), OKC already clinched the number one seed in the NBA Western Conference heading into the playoffs, making tonight’s game meaningless.
Durant, OKC’s superstar small forward who went pro after one season with the University of Texas, announced this morning that he won’t play on this Instagram account: “SITTING OUT TONIGHT’S GAME, if you disappointed I didn’t try to go for the scoring title, oh well!!”
Durant, who averaged 28.1 points per game this season (51 percent), won the scoring title in 2010, 2011, and 2012. He would have needed to score 70 points tonight to overtake the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, who is averaging 28.7 points per game. That would be a tall order, but Durant has the capacity to score virtually at will. And there is a precedent. In 1994, David Thompson dropped 71 points on the last day of the season to overcome Shaquille O’Neal for league scoring honors. Only six other players in NBA history have captured scoring honors three times in a row.
The team decided, however, that, in the big picture, the risk involved in going for a fourth consecutive scoring title isn’t worth it. Watching the game from the sidelines, for example, prevents Durant from suffering some kind of freak injury right before the playoffs start. “I definitely don’t want to sit out tonight, but our medical staff and coaches think it’s a good idea,” Durant commented.
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks praised Durant for his unselfish play this season: “I give Kevin a lot of credit, because maybe 10 games ago, if he was really focused on trying to get it four years in a row, he could have got it easily. Many times … he was trying to get a triple-double. And when you try to get 10 assists, that means you’re not trying to score.”
On the accomplishment of 60 wins, Durant had this to say: “It feels good. We’ve still got a lot of work to do … We’ve never done it here before. It’s new to us, but it feels good. It shows our progression as a franchise each and every year.”
Are you disappointed that Durant won’t play tonight?