Kevin Durant has emerged as the early favorite for the MVP title. The former Texas star has averaged 38.5 points per game in his last 11 contests and looks set to dethrone LeBron James, the four-time MVP when the Oklahoma City Thunder face the Miami Heat tonight.
James himself has this week acknowledged Durant's ability."Individually, he can't be stopped by any 1-on-1 player," James said. "There's nobody that can guard him 1-on-1."
However the reigning finals MVP is not shrinking in the face of the challenge:
"I like going against the best," James continued. "And he's definitely right up there. ... He's a great guy to compete against, man. I wish I could play against him every night because he brings that competitive nature out of you."
The two players have competed with each other for the United States national team, and both were stars as they won the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics.
They also faced off against each other in the 2010 finals, where James and the Heat rolled the Thunder in five games.
However, Durant is not concerned about the repeat matchup with James. "I'm just going out there and having fun, man," Durant said. "I'm just trying to play. I'm not coming in saying, `I've got to do this.' I'm not one of those guys that predetermines anything.
Dwyane Wade is expected to return for the Heat whilst the Thunder will be without guard Russell Westbrook.