Long after Kenny dies and Cartman has done something deplorable, nearly every South Park episode ends with Stan Marsh saying “you know, I really learned something today,” while reflecting on the moral lesson of that episode. Granted, those moral lessons often have to do with Tom Cruise a stuck in a closet, or something about a Christmas poo, but still, the concept of figuring out what, exactly, we just learned is a sound one. So, in the spirit of closing the 2009-2010 regular season, I present three things that we really learned today. Or, uh, this season:
Kevin Durant is filthy good – A Google search for “LeBron James” yields 7.4 million hits. A similar search for “Kevin Durant” gives only 1.35 million mentions. Yet which player won the scoring title this year? Yes, Durant, the guy with spaghetti arms playing in the Dust Bowl, defeated the mighty LeBron and his 7.4 million hits. In fact Durant increased his scoring average by five points over last year, which was an improvement of five points over his rookie year. At this pace, Durant will be averaging a Wilt-like 50 points per game by 2014. Looking aside his 29-game streak of scoring 25 points or more, what really impressed me is Durant’s performances over the last few weeks, with his team’s playoff life on the line. In April, Durant has averaged 35.1 points and eight rebounds, while shooting 41|PERCENT| from three. That’s a guy you do not want to see in the first round of the playoffs.
This was a great rookie class, but not necessarily from those that you’d expect – If you’d have told me that the No.1 pick would be hurt all season, the No. 2 pick would end up in the D-League and the No. 5 pick would spend the season tanning in Barcelona, I’d have assumed that 2009-2010 would have been a terrible rookie class. Not so fast my friend. Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans immediately proved himself unguardable and will be on All-Star teams for years to come. Same with Stephen Curry, whose shooting prowess from college proved to carry over to the pros. But the real backbone of this year’s rookie class was the unheralded guys. Reggie Williams came out of the D-League to average a 15-5 every night. Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton gave Hornets fans hope that their team could compete without Chris Paul. DeJuan Blair, Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, Taj Gibson – none of them were high picks, and yet all were major contributors. Wesley Matthews wasn’t even drafted, and now he’s starting every night in Utah. And who would’ve thought that the Pistons’ brightest hope this year would have been a Swedish guy that was picked in the second round? Aside from the Swedish Chef of course.
The old guys are still kickin’ – Most of us do it. When a player reaches their mid-30s, we tend to write them off, especially from a fantasy basketball perspective. My grandmother would call it “ageist” and then hit me with a newspaper. Though in basketball, where running, jumping and quickness are involved, one is just more likely to trust 25-year-old legs than 35-year-old ones. In some cases, |STAR|coughShaqcough|STAR| those assumptions are completely right. But in many other cases, this year was the year of “that old dude’s still got it.” 36-year-old Steve Nash had his best season in years, leading the league in assists and having another 50-40-90 shooting season. 36-year old Marcus Camby finished second in the league in rebounding. Chauncey Billups and Tim Duncan, both 33, looked downright spry for most of the year, despite having logged heavy miles over their careers. Even 37-year-old Jason Kidd popped a triple-double last week, and led his team to a high seed in the playoffs. He even shot 42|PERCENT| from three, despite being older than Mario “A.C. Slater” Lopez.
It’s been a great season and should be an even better playoffs. Can LeBron win a title before he starts his own franchise in Sheboygan? How many newspapers will check the spelling of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute while writing up their playoff capsules? Will Adam Morrison lead the Lakers to another title? Enjoy the playoffs folks, and try not to be the one who killed Kenny.