Forget stats, LeBron James is the NBA’s MVP

Cam Larkin Roar Guru

By Cam Larkin, Cam Larkin is a Roar Guru

 , ,

8 Have your say

    As the NBA 2016-17 season approaches the midway point, the league MVP is the tightest race in years, with Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) and James Harden (Houston Rockets) viewed as the frontrunners. But neither deserves the gong.

    Westbrook – now without Kevin Durant, who moved to the Golden State Warriors over the offseason – is Mr Triple-Double this season (30.9 ppg, 10.5 apg and 10 rpg) on a team that currently sits seventh in the Western Conference.

    If he keeps those numbers up, Westbrook will become only the second player to ever finish a regular season averaging a triple-double. Oscar ‘The Big O’ Robertson, in just his second season in the league, put up 30.8 ppg, 11.4 apg and 12.5 rpg. What makes those numbers even better is the fact there wasn’t a three-point line in 1961-62.

    Harden is just shy of averaging a triple-double with 28.4 ppg, 11.9 apg and 8.2 rpg. ‘The Beard’, who was a teammate of Westbrook’s for three seasons in Oklahoma City, was at his brilliant best recently against the New York Knicks, with 53 points, 17 assists and 16 rebounds – the first player in league history to have at least 50-15-15 against his name in a single game.

    Although lower scoring numbers, what’s more impressive is against true finals contenders Golden State Warriors (top in the Western Conference) and San Antonio Spurs (second in the Western Conference), Harden recorded triple-doubles.

    However, LeBron James is the MVP.

    Every year, James gives his team the best chance to win in the regular season and positions them well for the playoffs. The four-time regular season MVP – who also holds three finals MVPs – has the Cleveland Cavaliers sitting on top of the Eastern Conference, with 26 wins and seven losses.

    Through 33 games, James is averaging 25.6 ppg, 8.6 apg and 7.8 rpg. His ppg places him ninth on the leading scorers’ list, behind Westbrook (first) and Harden (fourth). James sits fifth in apg and 30th in the rpg leaders list. Both Westbrook and Harden rank higher.

    If any of these three superstars were to miss a game, their respective teams would likely lose. However, Cleveland is a true championship contender, yet if James doesn’t suit up, the Cavaliers have a very high percentage of recoding an ‘L’.

    Last season with James not in the line-up, Cleveland won one regular season game and lost five – that’s an 83.33 percent chance of losing. So far this season, James has missed three games – against Detroit, Indiana and Memphis – and the Cavs lost all three (and only Memphis is above .500).

    As expected, when James plays and is off the court (taking a rest), his impact is seen in the on/off stats when the opposing teams’ stats increase.

    Without teammate Kevin Love in the line-up, Cleveland are three wins and one loss. When Kyrie Irving doesn’t play, Cleveland have won three games and one loss. It must be pointed out the loss for both Love and Irving came against the Memphis Grizzlies, when James too didn’t play.

    The Cavaliers just look like a different team when James is in the line-up. Michael Jordan – who James is frequently compared against – once said, “There is no ‘I’ in team but there is in win.”

    Against the best in both the East (Toronto Raptors, after Cleveland) and West (Golden State Warriors), James averages 31 ppg, 10 rpg and 8.66 apg. It’s also the game-changing offensive and defensive plays that place James above all. Just ask any player who has heard James thundering behind and had their shot blocked. Further, James is as versatile as any player in the league, having played at each position this year.

    If LeBron is crowned as the regular season MVP, he will join Bill Russell and Michael Jordan, who both have five MVPs sitting on their mantlepiece. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has more, with six.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (8)

    • January 5th 2017 @ 9:47am
      Swampy said | January 5th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      Lebron is the ‘best’ player by distance. But I don’t think he we will win the MVP. There is just too much heat around Westbrook and Harden. Both are the engines by which their teams run. Their numbers are ridiculous. If you take either away from their teams for the rest of the season their teams would win 30% of their games. This would clearly not happen with the Cavs. James could rest for a month and the Cavs would still likely win the East (despite your numbers quoted). Tyrone Lue has also stated James’ minutes restriction will kick in during January/February. This will also affect his case for MVP. A lot of the games that James has sat out are on back to backs – the stats on teams winning the 2nd game of a back to back are very low thus that particular item with regards to James is a bit skewed.

      I would like to see James win (I think he has suffered the same as Jordan in the MVP voting with the noted fatigue of voting the same guy year in year out) for his true legacy but this is not the year. What Harden and Westbrook are doing right now is amazing and if they keep it up the MVP (a single season award – not a career one) should be deservedly fought out between them.

      It will be close and those 2nd and 3rd votes will matter for once.

      • Roar Guru

        January 5th 2017 @ 10:17am
        Machooka said | January 5th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        Very much agree Swampy… and we fans are surely blessed when you look at what Harden and Westbrook are presently achieving.

        Absolutely ridiculous numbers!

    • Roar Guru

      January 5th 2017 @ 11:06am
      Cam Larkin said | January 5th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      It’s likely Harden or Westbrook will be named MVP and you would have to say, “well deserved.” It would be very interesting if the vote was taken away from the 120+ commentators/journos etc and given to the team captains to vote – similar to the AFL MVP. LBJ is however the truest MVP in the NBA.

      As you write, Machooka, we (the fans) are very fortunate.

    • January 6th 2017 @ 7:10am
      Mushi said | January 6th 2017 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      Just a comment on the Big O numbers, you mention era (seemingly in an attempt to cast his achievement in a better light vs Westbrook) but it was the pace of the era that enabled that achievement rebounds per game back then we’re some ridiculous 66-75% higher.

      Also has LeBron played each position? Basketball reference doesn’t have him spending any time at the point

      • January 6th 2017 @ 6:38pm
        Swampy said | January 6th 2017 @ 6:38pm | ! Report

        And the nit-picking award goes to…

        • January 7th 2017 @ 4:28pm
          Mushi said | January 7th 2017 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

          Really after your little diatribe on the rookie of the year saying the author omitted kyrie Irving. Even though mentioning his name would be largely irrelevant to the article?

          Let me guess this is because I corrected your horrendous analogy comparing the Warriors to WWII Japan.

          He uses the Oscar thing to down grade Westbrook so completely relevant. He uses the LeBron playing every position factoid to strengthen his case. How is that less relevant than having to mention Kyrie Irving?

          If I really wanted to nit pick I could say that each paragraph supporting James either has an issue with sample size, context/omission, factual basis or relevance.

    • Roar Rookie

      January 9th 2017 @ 7:50am
      Xavier Paula said | January 9th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Imo James Harden deserves the MVP this year. He has team on pace to win about 62 games this year and the Rockets look like legit challengers to the Spurs and Warriors. I don’t think anyone saw this coming or James Harden being this type of play maker. The Thunder are probably going to fall into the 7th seed.

      Of course LeBron deserves it every year but that wouldn’t be a lot of fun.

    • January 18th 2017 @ 3:16am
      express34texas said | January 18th 2017 @ 3:16am | ! Report

      James looks like the best player on paper, but he hasn’t been so far. Harden has HOU, which plays a better conference and a much worse cast than James, at a better record than CLE currently. There’s more to it than just this, but Harden has had a bigger impact on wins/losses than James so far.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    , ,