Power Rankings: OKC stays on top
Monday, Jan. 21
It's the sort of thing you're bound to say after watching a guy score 52 points, but there's more to it than that. A lot more.
With the NBA's 30 teams either at or about to cross the 41-game midpoint on the regular-season schedule, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant has the slight lead here over LeBron James in the Most Valuable Player race, since Durant -- on this scorecard -- is enjoying a fractionally better season than the guy in Miami universally regarded as the game's best overall player.
LeBron James has been as individually superlative as anticipated for the Heat, sporting a sparkling PER of 30.30 entering the Martin Luther King Day schedule, but the champs are barely over .500 on the road (10-9) and, in spite of James' nightly brilliance, struggling in a variety of areas. Durant, meanwhile, is not only right there in the PER race at 29.03 but also has the Thunder perched atop ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings despite the late October departure of James Harden.
Even after losing one of the West's best players -- and losing an OT thriller Sunday night in Denver after routing the Nuggets days earlier -- OKC heads into Tuesday's showdown in L.A. with Chris Paul's Clippers in possession of the No. 1 ranking. Setting the Thunder's just-get-on-with-it tone in spectacular fashion, Durant is shooting 51.6 percent from the floor, 40.4 percent from the 3-point line and 90.9 percent on free throws, all of which has put No. 35 on the brink of snatching the scoring lead away from Kobe Bryant after KD's 52-point eruption Friday night in Dallas.
The rankings, as always, were compiled with peerless assisting from ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau. Click here to rank the teams yourself.
Also, check out John Hollinger's daily Power Rankings.