It’s a farce if LeBron James isn’t the unanimous MVP

Ryan O'Connell Columnist

By , Ryan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    LeBron James - the biggest thing in basketball, literally and figuratively. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON

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    The 2012/13 NBA regular season MVP award should go to LeBron James. And honestly, it isn’t even close.

    Already established as basketball royalty, ‘The King’ took his game to another level this season, playing smarter and more efficient.

    James’ impact on every single game he played in simply cannot be underestimated.

    Despite being the focal point of every opponent’s preparation, plans and defence, he dominated the season, and did it with such consummate ease that you truly felt like you were witnessing something historically great.

    Few players are given the complete package of physical skills, and even fewer are able to fully captilise on them, but that was LeBron this year: as close to basketball perfection as we’ve ever seen in recent times.

    Numbers don’t really do him justice, but it would be remiss not to mention just a few.

    His per game averages were 27 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block per game. Or, to summarise in one word, ‘wow’.

    His shooting percentage was a truly staggering 57%, including a career high 41% on three pointers.

    His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) was 31.68, the fourth highest ever recorded. To put that in context, the illustrious company of Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players to have achieved a higher number, and they did it marginally.

    Most importantly for any player deemed to be the most valuable, his team won, and won big. The Miami Heat finished the year with the best record in the league and went on a 27 game winning streak, the second longest in NBA history.

    He’s the best player in the league. He’s the most valuable player in the league. And by any measure, any statistic, and any rating you choose to utilise, he should be the 2012/13 NBA MVP.

    If he doesn’t win the award unanimously, let alone just win it, it will be a complete travesty. In fact, I would suggest that anyone that votes for any other player should be stripped of their ballot privileges next season and sent straight to a mental institution.

    Second should be Kevin Durant.

    In any other season, he would be the runaway winner, but sadly he’s playing in the LeBron James era, where great isn’t good enough – you need to be transcendent.

    Durant, still just 24 years of age, was gunning for his fourth straight scoring title, but relinquished his lead due to a late charge from Carmelo Anthony.

    However, he achieved the extremely rare “50/40/90” in field goal, three point and free throw percentage, something only five other players in history have done.

    Yet far from being a one trick pony, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar improved his all-round game and is much more than just a scorer.

    It’s not inconceivable to suggest that Durant could have three MVP’s trophies by now, despite his young age. Which speaks volumes not just of how great he is, but how great LeBron is.

    In third place will be Carmelo Anthony.

    He still takes poor shots. He still doesn’t apply himself on defence on every possession. He’s still not as strong a rebounder as he should be for his size. He’s still not the most willing passer in the league.

    But you simply cannot deny him the fantastic season he had, how unstoppable he can be on offense, and how great of a regular season the New York Knicks had.

    He’s a fair way behind the first two on this list, but he thoroughly deserves to sew up third spot in the MVP race.

    Chris Paul should be fourth.

    The historically terrible Los Angles Clippers have been one of the NBA’s best teams from the minute CP3 arrived via trade.

    This season, the club won the most games in their history, and while the roster was deep and talented, it was the leadership of their point guard that made them roll.

    Paul controls a game as well as anyone in the league, and his ability to know when to get his teammates involved and when to take over himself, is unrivalled among his peers.

    Coming in at five will be James Harden.

    A lot of people will question Harden being this high due to his supposedly poor defence.

    And while I’m the first to admit that offense is just 50% of basketball, one simply cannot overlook the effect Harden had on the Houston Rockets, and his influence in getting an otherwise uninspiring squad into the playoffs.

    I also think his defence was nowhere near as bad as some pundits would have fans believe.

    Harden got to the ring at will, hit clutch jumpers, got his teammates involved, had some massive scoring nights, and did a little bit of everything for Houston.

    He established himself as a legitimate superstar, and is certainly worthy of being labeled ‘valuable’.

    Kobe Bryant should take the honorary sixth position.

    The official NBA MVP voting ballot only requests five players’ names, but being a LA Laker fan, not an official voter, and with a touch of sentimentality over his season-ending Achilles injury, I’m adding Kobe’s name into the mix in sixth spot.

    Despite playing in his 17th year, Kobe had one of his most impressive seasons ever.

    His intensity, footwork, efficiency, conditioning and scoring prowess were as great as they have ever been, and he added some superb playmaking skills when the Lakers offense stagnated halfway through the season.

    However, the Lakers’ surprising and disappointing record, along with Kobe’s often lackadaisical defence, means the veteran superstar can’t be ranked any higher on the list. But he deserves some form of recognition for the season he had.

    Tomorrow, I’ll announce who I believe should win the other major awards for the season.

    Ryan O
    Ryan O'Connell

    Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.