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Friday, January 4th, 2013 at 2:11 pm  |  20 responses

Kevin Durant Is Chasing History

KD is on pace to join the exclusive 50-40-90 Club.

by Daniel Friedman / @DFried615

Kevin Durant is having one of the most efficient seasons in NBA history.

Through 31 games, he’s putting up 28.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 24-7 record. Though most analysts have Durant ranked second or third in the MVP race this season, he’s striving for a feat Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have never reached.

The 50-40-90 Club is comprised of the purest shooters in the League’s history. This club is not for hot streaks, three-point specialists, or free-throw connoisseurs. It’s reserved for the cream of the crop. A player must shoot at or above 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range, and 90 percent from the free-throw line during an entire NBA season.

Since the NBA introduced the three-point shot in the ’79-80 season, only five players have ever entered the 50-40-90 Club: Larry Bird (2x), Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash (4x) and Dirk Nowitzki.

Bird and Nash are the only players to ever achieve the feat in multiple seasons, and Nash missed being named to the club five consecutive times by shooting 89.9 percent from the free-throw line in the ’06-07 season, 0.1 percent short of the mark.

Durant will enter Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight to face the Philadelphia 76ers shooting 52 percent from the field, 42 percent from downtown, and 90 percent from the charity stripe, all while scoring 28+ points per game. If he can continue his offensive domination, it would trump one of the best shooting campaigns in NBA history.

The only other player to reach the top of the mountain in terms of shooting perfection and offensive output is Larry Bird. As the first inductee into the 50-40-90 Club, Bird put up 53-40-91 while scoring 28.05 points per game. He followed that up with his second consecutive 50-40-90 season, turning in arguably the greatest season by a shooter ever. With a mesmerizing 29.93 points per game, Bird was unstoppable, shooting 53 percent from the field, 41 percent from three-point range, and 92 percent from the free-throw line.

If Durant can continue shooting lights out and bring up his scoring average a few points per game, he’ll do something that Jordan, Kobe, LeBron and even Bird never could. He’ll lead the League in scoring while turning in the best shooting campaign in NBA history. And that kind of milestone will become even more significant when it comes time to crown an MVP this season.

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  • LakeShow

    Damn….
    This kid! He’s like a basketball robot.

  • Kadavour

    i’ve had my eye on this all season. KD is such a great scorer and Brooks’ system works very well for his game. 65% of his mid-range shots (10 feet away from the rim and beyond) are assisted, and all those assists (really 5 per game from that range) don’t go to Russell – it’s the system. It’s either 50, 40, 90 or 28pts/game with slightly lower %s. All in all dude is a pleasure to watch every night.

  • Swiftrunner

    Jose Calderon had a 50-40-90 season back in 2008.

  • http://twitter.com/DFried615 Daniel Friedman

    Calderon did indeed have a 50-40-90 season in 2008. But he fell short of the minimum requirements to be inducted into the Club. To be in consideration, players had to reach specific totals in each category. See this for a better explanation… http://www.nba.com/leader_requirements.html

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    he really is. with how many more shots Durant shoots then Bird from 3, he is the most efficient scorer in league history……..already.

    .

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=duranke01&y1=2013&p2=birdla01&y2=1990

  • LakeShow

    Exactly.

    Volume AND Efficiency…

    Nash you could always say(rightly or not) “well he only takes the best shot’s and has the best shot selection.”

    Price never shot over 50%fg’s after his first two or three years in the L.

    Dirk was more similar to KD, but didn’t launch the # of three’s same as Bird…

    Durant’s a different beast.

    KD…. You can’t say he only takes east buckets or any cop out.
    He shoots pull up’s, catch and shoot, DEEP three’s, clutch shot’s, list goes on.

    He’s a robot lol.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    no doubt. i mean, Larry was doing ridiculous stuff tho, stuff that i don’t think Durant ever could, or ever would have the balls to do….

    like this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rto2_oYVs0I

  • http://twitter.com/DFried615 Daniel Friedman

    Another interesting difference between Bird and Durant as it pertains to this discussion: Durant is 24 years old, Bird was over 30.

  • LakeShow

    Yeah, true.
    Do you think there is anything KD can do today that Bird could not have?
    Bird is still the best SF ever to me and it’s going to take ALLOT for Bron and Durant to ever overcome his legacy.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    that is what really makes this interesting imo. Durant’s scoring is much further along then Bird’s was at this age, but his overall game is still lagging behind.
    .
    Defensively they are about even, underrated, & productive.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Durant can average 35 for a whole season, and play well into his 30s.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    but no, i don’t think Durant is gonna catch Bird. Bird was way too smart and a much better playmaker.

  • Kadavour

    KD’s efficiency is a product of the system. There is A LOT of catch and shoot set up for him in that OKC offense. As per his defense: Kevin Durant is long and athletic. that is all. Larry was un-athletic and savvy as a mug, KD doesn’t belong in that comparison. He doesn’t see the floor as well as Larry did either. KD is just a pure scorer. His catch and shoot is beautiful, his 6-10 foot push/floater is beautiful, its the way big men should learn to play. He uses his length better than just about any scorer I’ve seen.

  • kadavour

    6 to 10 foot push floater. don’t want that confused with his height**

  • Otis

    Dude, thanks for this video. Hadn’t seen it before. WOW.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    That three he hit to make it 58. He called it. He was calling his shots during that stretch and said “3-ball trainers lap” on the previous possession. And that’s whose lap he fell into on that shot. Incredible.

  • Mars

    Durant is ridiculous, but with a center and a true point guard, he would be Kobe on steroids. Larry Legend tho..

  • Max

    Damn, If he would pull this off and lead the league in scoring that would be sick.

  • Mars

    Larry Legend tho…not yet KD, not YET.

  • The Mauve Avenger

    Really a fun read SLAM. More articles like this ,please. Durant is the future of basketball, eventually all positions will be more all around players. This truth was cemented by the rise of passing and mid range shooting big men in Europe making a name for themselves in the US and NBA removing the Center position from All Star voting. I can’t say I won’t miss the traditional, back to the basket, rough and tough Power Forward/Center ,but athletes will continue to become more and more impressive with the passage of time.

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