It sometimes feels like they never left, but throughout the last decade the Los Angeles Lakers slipped into the sort of NBA irrelevance usually saved for rebuilding teams in the southeast.
The LeBron James MVP hype train has slowly been picking up speed as we near the end of the 2019-20 NBA regular season.
The most recent victory over Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers has many asking the question: is LeBron having a better season than Giannis Antetokounmpo and should he be the front runner for the MVP award?
The Lakers currently hold the second-best record in the league, the best record in the Western Conference and have just one more loss than league leaders, the Milwaukee Bucks.
James currently leads the league in assists and is second in triple-doubles. He has been dominant on both ends of the court and is clearly a major component to the success of his team.
However, James is clearly one half of the successful duo that has led the Lakers to the top of the West.
Anthony Davis has been equally impressive this season and is the most obvious reason why LeBron should not win the MVP.
In recent years the voters have set a precedence in the MVP voting by overlooking Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant due to the fact they played for the same team, meaning they were less valuable than if they were separate.
Antetokounmpo on the other hand is the clear superstar on the Bucks and has been the sole reason for their successful run.
In his 16th season, LeBron has achieved so far beyond any expectation. But when it comes to the ultimate regular-season award, you have to be hypercritical.
Aside from assists, James’ stats are down across the board compared to his 15th season.
This is most likely the Anthony Davis effect, but when his rivals are putting up bigger and better numbers every night, it becomes harder and harder to believe that LeBron truly is the most valuable player in the league.
LeBron James has fallen into a trap of his own making. He no longer is compared to his fellow players but rather he is compared against himself.
To argue that he deserves his fifth MVP award is fair. But to actually award it to him would be unfair.
Unfair to the man who is clearly the most valuable player in the NBA: Giannis Antetokounmpo.