Someone wins the NBA scoring title every year. Each of the last three seasons, that someone was Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant.
But former Longhorn Kevin Durant did something this year accomplished by only five other players in NBA history — shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line in a season while taking the minimum amount of shots required. Durant was unable to win the scoring title for the fourth straight year, getting passed up by the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony this month.
Anthony averaged a whopping 36.9 points per game in nine April games, sitting out the Knicks’ final two regular season games. Durant, who did not play in the Thunder’s regular season finale against Milwaukee, finished the year with 28.1 points per game, second only to Anthony’s 28.7 points per game. Had he led the league in scoring this year, Durant would have joined Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan as the only players to ever win four straight NBA scoring titles.
But Durant, who averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 points per game while winning multiple national player of the year honors during his only season at Texas six seasons ago, shot a career-high 51 percent from the floor, 41.6 percent from the floor and an NBA-best 90.5 percent from the free throw line for Oklahoma City this year. In doing so, Durant, 24, became the youngest player to ever join the 50-40-90 club.
“It shows my progression as a player,” Durant told The Oklahoman last week. “It shows how far I’ve come as a player, from shooting 42 percent as a rookie to now shooting 50 [percent] for a whole season.”
Mark Price was 25 when he joined the 50-40-90 club in 1989 while Steve Nash became the oldest player in NBA history to go 50-40-90 when he did it for the fourth time at age 36 in 2010. Nash, 39, nearly pulled off another 50-40-90 season this year, shooting 43.8 percent from three-point range, 92.2 percent from the free throw line but just 49.7 percent from the floor in his first year with the Lakers this season, although he didn’t shoot enough to qualify for his fifth 50-40-90 season.
The 28.1 points per game Durant scored this season was the second-most by a player to go 50-40-90 in a season, less than only the 29.9 points per game Bird averaged when he did it in 1988.
If the Thunder win the NBA title this year, Durant would become the first in league history to ever go 50-40-90 and win a championship in the same season. Bird came the closest to pulling it off, leading the Celtics to the 1987 Finals, where they fell to the Lakers in six games.
It was the first time that anyone went 50-40-90 since Steve Nash did it for the third consecutive season in 2010 and the tenth time anyone had done it ever. Larry Bird, the only other player to accomplish the feat multiple times, was the first to do it, going 50-40-90 in 1987 and 1988. Price (1989), Reggie Miller (1993) and Dirk Nowitzki (2006) are the only others in the 50-40-90 club.