Kevin Durant officially joined the extraordinarily short list of players in the 50-40-90-club after declaring himself out of the Thunder’s final game Wednesday via Instagram.
For those who don’t understand what the 50-40-90-club is, think about this: in the history of the NBA, only six players have accomplished the efficiency-depicting feat. Those players include Larry Bird (twice), Oklahoma’s own Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash (four times), Dirk Nowitzki and now Durant.
50-40-90 simply means shooting 50% from the floor, 40% from three-point range and 90% at the free-throw line. The 50-40-90-club is the pinnacle of scoring efficiency and only the smartest and most well rounded scorers are allowed admission.
Out of the now six players who have joined the 50-40-90 plateau, five of them are either in the Hall of Fame or are no-doubt, future members. Not to mention Bird, Miller, Nash and Nowitzki are considered to be amongst the best shooters in league history.
If there is a negative that comes with the club it is the fact that no member has won a championship in the season he achieved membership. In fact, Bird’s first 50-40-90-season (1986-1987) is the only time a club member actually made it to the NBA Finals.
It’s likely Durant won’t win the MVP this year, but he isn’t the only player to join the 50-40-90-club without taking home the award in the same season. Nash’s 05-06-season is the only year in which a player joined the club and won the MVP award as well. James stole the award away from Nash in the 08-09 and 09-10 seasons and will likely steal it from Durant this year as well.
MVP or no MVP, the achievement in itself is mind-blowing. Durant is only the third player to join the club in the 21st century and out of the 10 times 50-40-90 has been accomplished, Durant has the second highest amount of three-point attempts with 334. Nash incredibly attempted 381 threes in 2007-2008 and shot 47%.
"It's hard to average two points in this league let alone coming close to leading the league and shooting 50-40-90," Scott Brooks said. "He's a very efficient player and a prideful worker. His progression as a player has been fun to coach. He's coachable and he will always be a top player with his talent and the work he puts in."
Durant also attempted by far the most free throws of any member of the ultra-exclusive club. He attempted 750 charity shots this season. He actually made more (679) than any player in the 50-40-90-club has ever attempted. The second-highest amount of free-throw shots on the list is Nowitzki’s 551 in 2006-2007. The lowest is Nash’s 210 in 2008-2009.
Although Durant finished second to Carmelo Anthony in this year’s race for the scoring title, it’s easy to see who the better scorer was this year just by the numbers. Durant shot .510% from the field, .416% from beyond the arc and .905% from the charity stripe. Anthony shot just .449% from the field, .379% from long range and .830% from the free-throw line. The league averages are .453% field goal shooting, .359% three-point shooting and .753% free-throw shooting. Anthony averaged .6 more points per game, but Durant was the smarter, more effective scorer.
Durant’s 28.15 points per game is the second highest in the club behind Bird’s 29.93 in 1987-1988. Durant scored more points than Bird in 87-88, but Bird played in 76 games compared to Durant’s 81 and somehow attempted 239 more shots.
To put things in perspective, membership to the 50-40-90-club is among the highest honors an NBA scorer can achieve. It’s not a promise of a championship or even an MVP award, but it’s a true testament to scoring efficiency and a list only six players have etched their names on in the history of the game. And one of those names is not LeBron James.
In all likelihood James will take home his fourth MVP in five years, but there’s still no doubt Durant’s season will forever be archived as one of the best in NBA history.