A player's reputation can be built on a relatively short flourish of heightened production, even if the hot streak eventually proves to be an anomaly. Think of Jeremy Lin, whose Linsanity persona was born from a 10-game streak in 2011-12. Since then, Lin's production has settled into the territory of a solid, non-star player, yet he finished with more votes than superstar teammate James Harden in this season's All-Star voting.
Other times, a hot streak is a logical manifestation of talent, circumstance and age, and it only burnishes the reputation of an already-great player. That seems to be happening right now with Kevin Durant.
Since Russell Westbrook last played on Christmas Day, Durant has gone on a tear even by his standards, averaging 36.5 points in 17 games since his wing man went down. That's nearly eight points per game more than any other player in the league during that stretch.
Durant leads Carmelo Anthony in the scoring race by 4.17 points per game. Assuming Anthony doesn't put up many more 60-point games, the gap may only grow while Westbrook is out. If so, Durant could post the biggest margin over second place a scoring champ has enjoyed since Michael Jordan outscored Dominique Wilkins by 8.05 points per game in 1986-87.
Durant's outburst has cemented his status as this season's MVP front-runner. But could he eventually be the best scorer of all time?