Kevin Durant has gotten better as his job has gotten easier. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Kevin Durant has gotten better as his job has gotten easier. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Better than ever, MVP Durant is killing his critics softly

We can’t hear you, Charles Barkley and Paul Pierce.

You, neither, Michael Jordan and Tracy McGrady.

They were among the old fogies who mumbled and grumbled about Kevin Durant and his decision to part ways with ballhog Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder last summer. Never mind that the move to the Bay Area was one that almost anyone in his drug-free mind would have made at the time.

Funny, but we don’t hear the noise nearly as often now, do we?

Could be because nearly one-quarter of the way through the regular season, Durant is in the midst of one of the greatest all-around seasons in NBA history. He has shut up his critics not with cheap words but a non-stop volley of points and rebounds and steals and blocked shots and victories.

Fact is, the move has resulted in an even better Durant if that’s possible, one that none of us would have known existed had he stayed put in OKC.

Pick a category, almost any category. Field goals. Field goal percentage. Two-point field goal percentage. Three-point field goal percentage. Total rebounds. Defensive rebounds. Steals. Blocked shots. Fewest turnovers. On a per-minute basis, Durant is on a pace for a career high in every one of ‘em. And he’s doing it with new teammates in a new system, mind you.

Better yet, at 16-2, the Warriors project to a 73-9 record (sound familiar?). In eight seasons with the Thunder, Durant never played for a team that won more than 60 games.

Has there been a more valuable player in the league to date? Balls thinks not. Not to get bogged down in numbers or anything, but Durant leads the league in win shares, according to Basketball Reference, the one metric that many ballers take as gospel. His 4.1 mark is a full 0.2 better than the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, who ranks second in the category.

If the Warriors come up short in the postseason again, the loudmouths will be sure to crank up the volume again. Until then, let’s sit back and enjoy greatness, shall we?

#BOYCOTTNFL IS ALIVE AND WELL: First, we were told the plunge in NFL television ratings was a fluke.
Then the presidential debates were to blame.

Well, after the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos generated a staggering 27 percent free-fall in the most recent Sunday Night Football ratings — the game was close throughout even if it did take forever — it’s time for the NFL apologists to admit what Balls has said all along. Former hardcore fans have had it with the overcomplicated, overexposed product and self-absorbed entertainers and political commentators who have taken it hostage in recent years.

The cold truth is, if not for our fantasy teams, few of us would give a rat’s read end about the players or games.

REST OF THE STORY: On Tuesday, former Green Bay Packers star Darren Sharper was sentenced to 20 years in prison, part of a plea agreement for drugging and raping women, as many as 16 women in four different states.

Wait — the story gets worse.

Sharper hunted his prey on the NFL’s dime. The league employed the bum as a studio analyst for three years. Lovely, huh?
Wait — the story gets worser.

Two months ago, Sharper was nominated for Hall of Fame induction because personal behavior is not a consideration.

At $269.94 per season, one would think that an NFL Sunday Ticket subscription included door locks.

JUST SAYIN’: Coach Jim Harbaugh had a hissy fit after an overtime loss at Ohio State last weekend. Relax, Michigan Man. The selection committee will find a way to schedule a rematch in the playoffs because it makes for ginormous TV ratings. You watch.

As good as the NHL product is now, it would be better yet if the players took off their helmet shields in shootouts. That way fans could see what they actually looked like …

Oh, and the Sharks would take off their beards, too …

Of course, if commish Gary Bettman and his entourage really want to get it right, they’ll eliminate the silly shootout, adopt a five-against-five, 10-minute overtime and award one point for a tie if necessary.

Warriors co-owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob are about to build a state-of-the-art arena in The City. Phony-Niners owner Jed York builds a cabana in Santa Clara. Now you make the call.

Kentucky pals DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall have discussed a superteam in the future, and if they can persuade Anthony Davis to join them, Sacramento would have an NBA team.

Self-promoter Draymond Green has begun to lobby for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, and he would have a better case if the Warriors ranked better than ninth in points allowed per possession.

According to numbers nerd Nate Silver, ESPN has a -3.14159265359 percent chance to succeed if it continues to lose 1.2-million subscribers every two months.

THE LIST: Sure-miss picks against the spread for Week 13 of the NFL season …

Dallas Cowboys (-3 1/2 points) at Minnesota Vikings.

Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers (+7).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3 1/2) at San Diego Chargers.

Last week: 0-3. Season: 12-21 (.364).

YOUR TURN: “If the Giants want to play with the big boys and get the postseason, they’ve got to spend money. That ballpark is a gold mine for them. Remember, they are going to save money on Angel Pagan, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, Gregor Blanco, Jake Peavy, Santiago Casilla, etc. They’re not high-rent guys, but (their salaries) add up. Come on, you know the Giants have the money, and their solid fan base deserves them to spend it.” — Lou Tulipano, Santa Rosa

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.Golden State WarriorsKevin DurantStephen CurrySteve Kerr

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