LeBron James may appear like he doesn’t care much about the MVP race, but he does.
ESPN basketball writer Brian Windhorst, also known as James’ biographer, revealed that LeBron listens, reads and watches all the accolades heaped upon Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and James Harden. LeBron has been relegated to third or fourth choice, and this isn’t sitting well with The King.
James is a four-time regular-season NBA MVP and the reigning title-holder of world’s top player. Even though Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant captured the throne in 2014, KD was just keeping the throne warm for King James.
Curry is the sexy pick to win MVP this season because: A) he plays on the league’s top team, B) and he ranks in the top 10 in five statistical categories. He’s also put together a couple of YouTube-worthy highlights, making him a fan favorite of the online world. Curry’s Golden State squad will likely be the top-seeded team in the Western Conference when the playoffs begin, and that alone could be enough to persuade voters to give Curry the 2015 MVP. But if there is an argument against Curry it’s the simple fact that the Warriors are loaded.
The Warriors have been the best shooting team and one of the top defensive teams this season, and Curry has only been one part of the GSW machine. His backcourt teammate, Klay Thompson, has emerged as arguably the second best shooting guard in the NBA, behind only Harden, and Draymond Green could likely be the NBA’s most improved player.
Harden was the early MVP favorite for keeping the Houston Rockets near the top of the Western Conference despite not having center Dwight Howard. But The Beard has tailed off a bit since the All-Star break, even relinquishing the league lead in scoring to Westbrook. The Rockets have dropped a few spots in the standings, which could hurt Harden’s chances.
Westbrook is the late-comer to the party, but he is commanding center stage at the moment with a string of triple-doubles reminiscent of the great Oscar Robertson. But OKC is fighting for eighth in the West, and traditionally the MVP goes to the player on on the first- or second-place team in the conference. As great as Westbrook has been the last two months, he won’t get a sniff of the MVP trophy.
Davis got off to a historic start when he was posting numbers few of us have seen. But injuries have curtailed the New Orleans Pelicans franchise player and he’s just recently found his groove again. Davis is in the top 10 of four statistical categories, and his meteoric rise to superstardom is one of the better storylines of the season. If the Pelicans make the playoffs — and it’s a big IF — Davis should vault ahead of Westbrook and challenge Harden, Curry and LeBron for the top spot.
Which brings us to LeBron.
James may be a victim of his own greatness. He has created a metric that only he can achieve, making it very easy to ignore his dominance and brilliance.
Michael Jordan was so good during the 1990s MVP voters looked the other way to prevent a Jordan overload. Jordan could have easily been named MVP eight times in the decade but that would have been too easy. Voters went out of their way to give the award to Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Magic Johnson.
LeBron is averaging 26 points, 5.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists this season. Those numbers would astronomical for any human being, but it’s just a ho-hum season for LeBron. The Cavaliers were basically out of playoff contention at the same time last year, and this year, with LeBron back in the fold, they’re challenging for the second-best record in the East.
In showcase showdowns with Curry and Harden, LeBron made big statements. LeBron torched Curry’s Warriors for 42 points on Feb. 26, and even though the Cavs lost in overtime to Harden’s Rockets on March 1 LeBron sent a strong message to Harden that he’s still the top dog in the Association. When the two superstars were matched up against each other, King James bottled up The Beard for long stretches in the fourth quarter and overtime. LeBron worked so hard on the defensive end it probably caused him to go 3-for-11 from the free throw line.
LeBron seems to have fallen into the Jordan category. Voters tend to go out of their way to make a case for fresh faces such as Curry, Harden and Westbrook because they’d like to avoid giving the award to LeBron a fifth time.
But this doesn’t make it the right call.
When picking the MVP for the 2014-15 season there is one logical choice, and he’s wearing No. 23 for the Cavaliers.