We are rapidly approaching the halfway point of the NBA season.
Meaning the race is on for individual awards and early season streaks are no longer flukes.
One individual award that has had some infamous finishes in years past is the scoring title.
The NBA scoring title is awarded to the player that scores the highest points per game average during the regular season.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 3, 2020
As it currently stands, there are mostly familiar faces littering the top 10.
But there are two surprise names in the top 10 this season.
Here are two scoring title contenders that people may not have expected in the offseason.
2. Kevin Durant
Yes, Kevin Durant is a four-time scoring champion.
Yes, Durant is arguably the greatest individual scorer in NBA history.
And yes, Durant is maybe the greatest player on the planet as it currently rotates.
But that does not mean seeing him in the top spot is not a surprise.
Durant is averaging a whopping 29.7 points per game for the Brooklyn Nets.
For a guy who did not play at all just two seasons ago due to an Achilles injury and having just turned 33, it is a jaw-dropping display of scoring prowess.
Modern medicine and training have allowed players to rebound from injuries stronger than ever before.
But Durant being able to potentially average 30 points per game for the third time in his career this late would be incredible.
The Brooklyn Nets offense is perfectly put together:
•Kevin Durant (leads league in scoring 29.7 PPG)
•James Harden (9.7 APG, is second in league)
•Kyrie Irving (last season averaged 27 PPG on 50-40-90 splits)
•Joe Harris (46 3P% in last 4 seasons leads league)
— Brooklyn Netcast (@BrooklynNetcast) December 29, 2021
KD has not topped 27 points per game since before he was with the Golden State Warriors.
Teaming up with Kyrie Irving and Harden in Brooklyn had many anticipating Durant’s scoring load to decrease.
Similar to his days with the Warriors, he would not have to shoulder the scoring burden of the team.
A slow start from Harden and Irving’s absence means that has not been the case.
Durant is one of the greatest scorers of all time.
But going seven years between scoring titles would be an incredible surprise.
1. DeMar DeRozan
Next up is the newest member of the Chicago Bulls, DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan signed with Chicago this offseason after three years with the San Antonio Spurs.
Similar to Durant, DeRozan is no slouch when it comes to scoring the basketball.
He averages 20.4 points per game for his career and has topped 20 per night the previous eight seasons.
But DeMar has never finished better than fifth in the race for the scoring crown.
And that came all the way back in 2016-17 when he poured in 27.3 a game for the Toronto Raptors.
DeRozan is currently the fifth-highest scorer in the NBA this season at 26.8 points per game.
He is three points off the current leader’s per-game average but has shown no signs of falling off the pace.
DeRozan has topped 20 points in 10 straight contests including three 30+ point games.
Most 30 point games this season:
LeBron James – 14
Stephen Curry – 13
Kevin Durant – 13
Trae Young – 13
Jayson Tatum – 11
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 10
Zach LaVine – 10
DeMar DeRozan – 9
Joel Embiid – 9
Donovan Mitchell – 9 pic.twitter.com/BYSOyByOzq
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) December 30, 2021
What is truly shocking is that DeRozan is doing this without a three-point shot.
He’s knocking down a career-best 37 percent of his threes but is still only taking 2.2 per game – 187th most in the league.
He is the only player in the top 10 in scoring to take fewer than three threes per game.
Even Giannis and Nikola Jokic are putting up 3.8 and 4.4 attempts per game, respectively.
If DeRozan can go on a late-season surge to push for the scoring title, it would be a remarkable feat.