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

Ryan O'Connell Columnist

By Ryan O'Connell, 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.

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    The Crowd Says (97)

    • April 18th 2013 @ 8:55am
      melo-drama said | April 18th 2013 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      My issue with Bron bron is purely when I watch him I feel like he should be doing more….. Maybe it’s because he sets an unfair standard….. Miami have had a pretty incident free team and haven’t had to deal with many major injuries…..
      My #1 and #2 would be KD and Melo….. Either or more deserving then the other, would I be angry if KD, Melo or Bron Bron got MVP? No each is as deserving as the next and in their own right…. All have had career years and are the reasons their teams are where they’re at…..
      Can the NBA have a 3 way tie???

      • April 18th 2013 @ 9:28am
        mushi said | April 18th 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

        So let me get this straight Bron should be doing more but lazy D Melo is deserving to stand alongside him and Durant despite doing nothing better on the court better (pass, shoot, drive, rebound, defend) than Lebron or Durant other than take more shots?

        Melo is having a career year, it is so good that it surpasses Jame’s rookie year and actually puts him in the conversation of is Melo as good as james was when he was 21?

      • Columnist

        April 18th 2013 @ 9:38am
        Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        Melo-drama, surely you’re joking?

        LeBron should do more? What more could he freaking do? He does EVERYTHING!

        LeBron is ahead of Durant, and Durant is so far ahead of Melo it isn’t even funny. I know you’re a Knicks and Melo fan, but that its just blind favouritism to even put Melo in the same conversation as Durant, let alone LeBron.

        • April 18th 2013 @ 10:42am
          melo-drama said | April 18th 2013 @ 10:42am | ! Report

          Dear Ryan and Mushi
          I don’t like Bron Bron I really dont….. But he is the most athletic and talented basketball player of all time and I do have a great amount of respect for him….. But if Bron Bron wants to get my MVP vote over two lesser athletes then he would have needed to take the bobcats to the playoffs averaging a tripple double…… Because he can
          Leading a team to 2nd in the east through a pleatherer of injuries and consistently changing your game with another new lineup gets overooked because you take too many shots? mean while James collects stats gets the dub all relatively easily….. thats not an MVP
          Advancing your game on a defensive level while maintaining your offensive game this is overlooked because a guy who can average ridiculous numbers averaged ridiculous numbers?
          You cant cruise to an MVP award thats why Bron won’t get my vote……

          • April 18th 2013 @ 11:01am
            Chaos said | April 18th 2013 @ 11:01am | ! Report

            Melo-Drama. I’m going to bite. Melo has had a good season but he is not he MVP. He is not even second.

            Also using the logic on your arguement ‘MJ shouldn’t have got any MVP’s because he had a good supporting cast Pippen, Rodman and co… MJ had the talent so he should have gone to the Bullets and averaged 50 points a game because he could have.’

            Hmmm…. Anyway LeBron has hauled a team single handedly to playoffs before. It was the Cavs. LeBron is MVP. Daylight second. Durant then a big distance to Melo/Harden/Paul.

            • April 18th 2013 @ 12:51pm
              melo-drama said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

              MJ came back from injury 3 games down in the playoffs and the Bulls won that year….You can’t compare era’s

          • Columnist

            April 18th 2013 @ 11:15am
            Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 11:15am | ! Report

            So you punish LeBron because you think he ‘cruised’, yet you’re happy to give it to Melo who cruises on D almost every single game? I’m struggling to see the logic in that one.

            And how did LeBron cruise anyway? He led his team on a 27 game winning streak, best record in the league, averaged close to a triple double, and was the best defender on his team. I don’t think he cruised at all, he’s just better than everyone else.

            Whilst stats aren’t everything, Melo’s PER was 24.8, and LeBron’s was 31.7 – that indicates just how much better LeBron is. It’s literally an insult to put Melo in LeBron’s class, and if he gets one single first place vote, I’ll be literally disgusted.

            • April 18th 2013 @ 12:14pm
              melo-drama said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

              My literal disgust that you would even imply I am putting Melo n Bron Brons class surely means I have missed the mark here.
              Im not saying Melo is better then Bron or Durantula, I am however saying Bron daylight Durant daylight Melo as people are eloquently putting it is about as meaningful as the impact the players have had on their team and in my opinion all 3 players are deserving of the title.
              I have about as much time for stats as listening to Miami’s super best friends record. It’s irrelevant Melo Durant and Bron Bron are all deserving and for their own right, not comparing stats not comparing records and not using MJ’s Bulls team mates as a comparison for Miami’s Super best friend club.
              I’m not punishing Bron im putting all 3 seasons in perspective and there isn’t daylight between Melo’s injury depleted Knicks winning the atlantic for the 1st time in 19 years Brons Super best Friends Miami and their 2nd best streak in NBA history or KD’s increased maturity and improved game and taking OKC to the 2nd bet record in the NBA….
              I hope melo gets 4 votes Ryan so your disgust quadruples and u will be all like “wow maybe I was wrong about Melo and this Knicks team”

              • Columnist

                April 18th 2013 @ 12:59pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

                I take back the ‘disgusted’ reference. That was heavy hyperbole from me and I apologise. However, I will be legitimately shocked if Melo gets a first place vote. And if he gets four, I’ll probably have to question my basketball knowledge.

                LeBron playing with talented teammates is irrelevant. He played with a bunch of absolute scrubs in Cleveland and was still the best player in the league then, and got them to the Finals one year, along with a pair of 66 and 61 win seasons.

                Also, you can ignore stats if you like, but the truth is that they do help paint a picture.

                When a player has great stats, but plays on a bad team, it’s used against him in the MVP race. When a player has very good stats – but not the best in the league – yet his team won the most games, some people hold it against him in the voting.

                Whilst some stats (and their use) can lie, the fact LeBron had the best stats, and his team had the best record, proves unequivocally that he’s the best player, and should win the MVP.

              • April 18th 2013 @ 1:31pm
                melo-drama said | April 18th 2013 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

                My issue with MVP is people think it goes to the best player in the NBA which is LeBron who is daylights ahead of the second best player in the league who is Durant and the next best player in the league who is Chris Paul…..Melo would be somewhere between 6 and 10
                People like Callam P work like that… Prob still has nightmares of melo rocking the transition 3 from his denver days and likes to hold it against him…
                But its not about who is the best player it’s about who has been the most valuable…. You could pay bron your whole cap and that would be a steal…… But was his season more valuble then KD’s and Melo’s…… with stats yes but theres no daylight in it

              • April 18th 2013 @ 2:58pm
                mushi said | April 18th 2013 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

                My issue is with people who don’t know what the word “value” means.

                It means worth – in an academic sense it has the price paid by a willing but not anxious buyer to a willing but not anxious seller.

                Now given it is the league’s most valuable player should it not be the player who’s on court contribution was worth the most across the league. You’ve already admitted that is LeBron and yet you are just perverting the meaning of the word valuable to suit your purposes

              • Columnist

                April 18th 2013 @ 3:20pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

                Actually Melodrama, the criteria for the MVP award is deliberately kept vague by the NBA. There is no instruction given to voters, it’s simply left up to them how they wish to determine the award.

                It’s kept deliberately ambiguous because the league is well aware that it stimulates media coverage and debate, just like this.

                But some seasons, the winner is so clear cut, it doesn’t matter about the ambiguous nature of adjudicating the award. Just like this season for example. LeBron is the best player, the most valuable player, has the best stats, and played on the best team. Game over!

          • April 18th 2013 @ 11:37am
            mushi said | April 18th 2013 @ 11:37am | ! Report

            How can you say you have respect for him and then completely disregard his game. It isn’t the most improved which you’ve morphed it into (and even then Durant tears Melo apart).

            Melo doens’t get down graded due to shooting too much, he gets down graded because Durant and Lebron are better help defenders, better man to man defenders, better rebounders, far better per shot scorers and far better facilitators in the offence. In simpler words they are just better.

            Melo is not in the conversation expect to actually highlight how much better they are than him. Which is what makes the coasting discussion so utterly laughable, Melo if he had applied himself like LeBron or Durant could have been in that conversation but he chose not to be.

            I’m just stunned that person that actually watches games can rag on LeBron’s work ethic and catapult Melo to be the MVP when he so clearly the inferior player.

            • April 18th 2013 @ 12:41pm
              melo-drama said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

              No Mushi you saying “Melo’s crap because he doesnt defend and try to defend and doesn’t do anything except score and stuff Bron does that stuff so he’s like MVP and anything else is irrelevant because unless Melo gets 30ppg 11rebounds and 6 assists then he aint worth getting the title because he cant do that so shut up…..”
              If Bron averaged these stats this year but the team failed to make it to the play offs he’d in your eyes still be the MVP…..
              If Kevin Durant hadn’t lost a game with OKC and averaged the same stats he wouldn’t get MVP because Brons is better.
              If Melo had averaged the same stats and the Knicks came 1st in the east and all that it wouldn’t matter because Brons stats were better so he is MVP….
              I know this is exagerated, but why dont we give bron an MPV award for every year of his Nike endorsement…..

              • April 18th 2013 @ 12:58pm
                Callam P said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:58pm | ! Report


                It is relatively easy to determine the contribution of basksetball players to their team’s success. According to Win Shares, LeBron contributed 19.3 wins for the Heat, while Durant contributed 18.9 wins for the Thunder.

                Melo? He contributed 9.5 wins for the Knicks – the 13th most wins of any player this season.

                So not only was he not as good as LeBron or Durant, he was not even close to being as good as LeBron or Durant. And IMO should not even be considered in the top 5 players this season.

              • Columnist

                April 18th 2013 @ 1:03pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

                Stats are just one way to measure the MVP. Team wins also count. LeBron has Melo covered on both counts.

              • April 18th 2013 @ 3:28pm
                mushi said | April 18th 2013 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

                Thanks for the words in my mouth. For some reason I sound as irrational and ill considered as yourself but I’ll try and counter what I’ve apparently said. Though I do wonder – how strong must your conviction in Carmelo as an MVP candidate be that you have literally just made stuff up to support your point.

                For starters I would never say “unless melo gets xx ppg/rpg/apg” because no one thinks per game stats are relevant anymore.

                Also is 3rd or 4th most valuable contribution this season really me saying he’s crap? He isn’t Durant or LeBron by that reasoning I just said close to 450 NBA players are crap.

                Also I’m a thunder fan, I’m just able to look past that and not stick my head up my rear and realise that LeBron was still the best player on the court this year…by a decent margin. It’s called ob- jec-tiv-i-ty.

                Now I’m also reasonably confident that If Durant put together the same statistics as LeBron I would not say LeBron’s statistics were better.

                Counting the number of wins – that’s a statistic.

                You want to pretend you’re in the utopian sanctuary above statistics when in reality you are showing a complete over reliance on ones that have no relevance to player contribution to winning. Counting wins and per game numbers like points or rebounds are statistics, counting number of injuries are statistic.

                It is just they are just really bad ones for measuring how well an individual player played and shouldn’t actually be sued other than to get a point across to small children.

                If LeBron had recorded the statistics he has, and his team failed to make the play offs in the east, what I would actually do is question the relevance of the statistics I’ve looked at.

                Thankfully this isn’t required, and never has been where a player has had his kind of contribution and missed the play offs (because although I don’t think any of the advanced stats are perfect they seem to be some what okay for offensive contribution and are built off of what correlates with outscoring your opponent). Instead Bron ended up with 22% more wins than your candidate so where is the beef?

                Which also brings me to defence. If I only love stats why do I care about D – but you never do? The only people you ever really mention have been statistically supported (the Ibaka example for DPOY).

                Defence is the one area you should be able to shout from the roof tops to discredit most advanced stats but you ignore it – why because you actually use statistics you just use outdated and irrelevant ones.

              • April 18th 2013 @ 4:19pm
                melo-drama said | April 18th 2013 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

                The most unambiguous way to determine the MVP for the masses is to find the best stat collector on the team with the most wins and thus he is MVP.
                Mushi – I dont think your wrong, im not sayng LeBron isn’t the best player in the NBA…..
                If the NBA’s decision is so vague what are we all doing?
                My utopian reasoning is about as right as your PER and defensive stats gawd who knows Tony Paker might get it…..

              • April 18th 2013 @ 4:41pm
                mushi said | April 18th 2013 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

                I find nothing to validate that your per game raw stats approach is as “right” as other stats which have at least been chosen due to correlation to outscoring your opponent. I’ve see a lot to suggest it is a godawful way of doing things but nothing suggesting it is “right”

              • April 18th 2013 @ 4:42pm
                mushi said | April 18th 2013 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

                by the way I said “pretend” you are in utopia. because it you are pretending to not use stats, all the while using really really bad ones.

              • Columnist

                April 18th 2013 @ 5:19pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

                “The most unambiguous way to determine the MVP for the masses is to find the best stat collector on the team with the most wins and thus he is MVP.”

                I don’t like that way of judging the MVP, but some people do use it. Here’s the difference though, LeBron doesn’t just have the best stats on the best team, he has the best stats in the entire league, for the team that has the best record in the league.

                Whether you like stats or not, you simply cannot ignore that!

                Throw in the fact that LeBron is easily the best player using the ‘eye test’ as well, and I think it’s more than fair that he should be the unanimous MVP.

    • April 18th 2013 @ 9:31am
      mushi said | April 18th 2013 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      Ryan, I actually think Durant bridged the gap a little this year (but widened the drop off to the rest of the league). But I just don’t think his game can ever get to Jame’s due to the difference in physique. Durant may be remembered as a top 5 player of all time where as James now seems to have a floor of top 3

      • Columnist

        April 18th 2013 @ 9:40am
        Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 9:40am | ! Report

        It’s funny, because this was LeBron’s best year yet, and yet you could easily argue that Durant closed the gap. Like I said, the fact that Durant could have 3 MVP trophies by now indicates both how great he is, but how truly great LeBron is.

        (Mushi, I thought for sure you’d call me out for putting Kobe in there!)

        • April 18th 2013 @ 10:12am
          mushi said | April 18th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

          Kobe held the team together this year, and really when you are talking 5th to like 8th I think many of the names are interchangeable. Personally I had Parker there but kobe, harden, even Westbrook or Gasol could slot in.

          I’m only a Kobe “hater” to the extent that I think his legacy has an LA glow helped dramatically by the quality of his team and the saturation of media coverage you get in LA versus the rest of the US pre the 24 hour news cycle.

          I think when you look at his career objectively Duncan was the better and more influential player for that era on the court and that he sits for me more in the Malone level discussion than the Magic discussion for his career.

          • Columnist

            April 18th 2013 @ 11:18am
            Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 11:18am | ! Report

            I have Duncan slightly ahead of Kobe actually, in terms of all-time greatness. I think they both slot into the top 10 somewhere.

            Whilst I haven’t sat down and actually written the list, I have Malone a long way behind both of those guys.

            • April 18th 2013 @ 3:44pm
              mushi said | April 18th 2013 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

              I’d have Malone in the same tier as Kobe but with Kobe ahead. I hate Malone by the way but respect him as a player.

              • Columnist

                April 18th 2013 @ 5:25pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

                I don’t like him either, and I don’t really respect him a great deal either. Not as much as I should, perhaps.

                I think he was an amazing physical specimen, a very hard worker who looked after his body and was extremely dedicated. But I think he was a bit overrated.

    • April 18th 2013 @ 11:04am
      Chaos said | April 18th 2013 @ 11:04am | ! Report

      In other news I don’t think there is any doubt on ROY.

      • April 18th 2013 @ 1:13pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

        Me either – but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow!

    • April 18th 2013 @ 11:50am
      Worlds Biggest said | April 18th 2013 @ 11:50am | ! Report

      Agree Ryno, LBJ should win it again, I was talking to a mate about him yesterday. He is skillful, athletic & strong enough to play all 5 positions on the court. Just a freak. What about your Lakers, done well to make the playoffs. Now Kobe is out for at least 9 months is it time for the Lakers to blow it up and start again ?

      • Columnist

        April 18th 2013 @ 1:11pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        I have no idea what the Lakers are going to do. There are a few options open to them, but I don’t think they should be in any rush until the rest of the season pans out, along with assessing Kobe’s injury.

    • April 18th 2013 @ 11:56am
      Reegan Osborne said | April 18th 2013 @ 11:56am | ! Report

      Ryan, where do you rate Stephen Curry. Surely his real breakout year would have to be close to the top 10 for 2013 and he is about to break Ray Allen’s record. Simple the Warriors would be nowhere near the playoffs without the baby face assasin.

      Regards one very BIAS GSW fan.

      • Columnist

        April 18th 2013 @ 1:09pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

        I think Curry is in the mix with Kobe, Westbrook, Parker and Duncan to finish somewhere in that 6-10 range. He’s a heck of s shooter, and was very influential upon the Warriors success.

        • April 18th 2013 @ 1:57pm
          melo-drama said | April 18th 2013 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

          Curry is a true talent but is he a scorer a point guard a point guard scorer? some times I noticed when he would have huge games scoring he wasn’t watching the floor and looking for people to get them shots and the Dubs would end up losing (something Rondo does very well) and I think once he gets that down he’ll be an All Star for sure…..

          • Columnist

            April 18th 2013 @ 5:26pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

            If I had a stroke like his, I wouldn’t be looking for teammates either!

        • April 18th 2013 @ 3:33pm
          mushi said | April 18th 2013 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

          My issue is that he can’t defend a lick at this point.

          He either needs to add strength or get more willing

    • April 18th 2013 @ 12:53pm
      Callam P said | April 18th 2013 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

      I think it is difficult to justify Melo so high, particularly above CP3.

      • Columnist

        April 18th 2013 @ 1:07pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | April 18th 2013 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

        I had them to neck-to-neck, Callum.

        But Melo just slightly gets the nod because he plays more minutes, and because of his late season scoring spree, which had the Knicks on 13 game winning streak which guaranteed them second spot in the East.

        But I was splitting hairs.

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