With what has turned into a pretty remarkable NBA season soon coming to a close, many regular season awards will be decided on. For Rookie of the Year, the main contenders are Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Philadelphia 76ers point-forward Ben Simmons. In the Sixth Man of the Year contest seems to favor Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon, but Memphis Grizzlies star Tyreke Evans could also have a shot at the trophy. Speaking of the Rockets, head coach Mike D’Antoni should also easily win Coach of the Year honors after the team’s performance this season.
Besides Gordon’s stellar play and D’Antoni’s system in Clutch City, they are also led by James Harden, the near-foregone conclusion for Most Valuable Player. It makes sense why The Beard is a lock to win it, too. Harden was considered a snub last season after leading a dynamic Rockets team lost the MVP award to former teammate Russell Westbrook, who averaged a triple-double. This season, Westbrook has faltered with his superteam while Harden took things to the next level as the Rockets are the best team in the NBA and have blasted off past the Golden State Warriors.
But, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James had his own thoughts after the team’s game against the Miami Heat:
LeBron on MVP: "I would vote for me. The body of work, how I’m doing it, what’s been happening with our team all year long … I definitely would vote me.” https://t.co/xWLFhlOvK3
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) March 28, 2018
The thing is, he is 100% right. James should be this year’s MVP over Harden and there are a few obvious points that really drive the King’s case home.
The biggest thing really making the case for James is his statistics from this season. He has been incredible in his fifteenth season with averages of 27.6 points, a career-high 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game all while shooting 54.7% from the floor and 36.5% from three-point range.
Continuing on with just statistics alone, James has been a freak post-All-Star break for the Cavaliers. Fear the Sword‘s Mike Zavagno gives some perspective on how big of an impact James has had:
Let's talk briefly about the Cavs (going to be a bit stat-heavy so bear with me)
Cleveland is 10-7 since the All Star Break. Luck-Adjusted, over that span they have a:
115 oRTG (~4th)
110.4 dRTG (~15th)
+4.6 Net Rating
~52 win pace over the full season
— Mike Zavagno (@MZavagno11) March 27, 2018
This was before the team’s loss to the Miami Heat but the Cavs are still posting relatively the same numbers and are still on track to win 52 games and finish third overall in an Eastern Conference that seemed like a lost cause.
To help put these statistics even further into perspective, James has been this incredible during what has been an exhausting season for the Cavs. They were rife with drama throughout the season. It started with Kyrie Irving asking to be traded. After that JR Smith and Dwyane Wade were whining over the starting two-guard spot. Finally, Wade, Isaiah Thomas, and Jae Crowder all were key factors in dividing a near-broken lockerroom.
If it was not drama, it was injuries as the team has seen to the entire roster. Before the season, Thomas sidelined for quite a while with his hip injury that has again taken him out for the season. The Cavs have lost rebounding machine Tristan Thompson to nagging injuries and possibly the Kardashian Kurse as well. Most of all, the team’s second best player in Kevin Love has been sidelined with a broken hand and now a gruesome tooth injury along with concussion symptoms. Even head coach Tyronn Lue has been sidelined because of health issues. Injuries happen to any team, but when it rained, it really poured for the Cavs.
Not only were drama and injuries a problem, James also has played with two totally different rosters from last season. At the start of the season, the Cavs added Thomas, Crowder, Wade, Ante Zizic, Derrick Rose, Jeff Green, Jose Calderon, and Cedi Osman. Naturally, there would be an awkward-growing phase for all these new players but they never got to play alongside James until the regular season began as James missed the preseason with a nagging ankle sprain. Then James had to try and learn to play alongside Thomas midway through the season and it ended up being a colossal failure.
Then, the Cavs front office took a ton of TNT to the roster and shipped out the majority of their offseason additions, sans Green, Calderon, and Zizic. They then brought in Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., George Hill, and Rodney Hood. All four of these players are key to the Cavs’ title ambitions and James again had to learn to play with an entirely new roster. This time, it was just in the middle of the season. The fact that James had to go through this not only once, but twice in the same season is a testament to his ability and his overall MVP status.
Nevertheless, James has still persisted and has been carrying the Cavs throughout the season. This was showcased most recently in the team’s sloppy win against the Charlotte Hornets, where James finished with 41 points, 8 assists, 10 rebounds, and plenty of MVP chants:
Even at 33 years old and plenty of mileage on his body, James continues to surpass everyone’s expectations every time he plays.
Throughout his career, he has done exactly that, and in his fifteenth season, he has set a few milestones as well. In a December win over the Utah Jazz (109-100), James posted a triple-double and surpassed Larry Bird for sixth all time. Soon after against the Spurs, James became the youngest player in NBA history to score 30,000 points. For the entire month of February, James averaged a triple-double for the first time in his career in a win against the Brooklyn Nets. In the same game against the Nets James also became the first player to reach 30,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, and 8,000 assists. The career accomplishments and accolades will keep coming for quite a while for King James but this season alone has been incredible.
While James Harden has been amazing for the Rockets and is the best player on the best team in the league, LeBron James should be this season’s Most Valuable Player. Numbers never lie, and James’ numbers clearly show that he is having his best season ever. This is compounded even further by the fact that this season has been one unlike any other for the King. Even with all the drama, injuries, and roster changes, James has still been incredible and is deserving of his fourth MVP overall.
The playoffs are nearly here and soon the quest for the Cavs’ second title in three seasons begins. While Harden is a threat for the MVP trophy, he is not a threat for a championship because he chokes harder than an Imperial on the Death Star in the playoffs. The main goal should obviously be winning another title, an MVP trophy for James would be icing on the cake for this season. Thankfully for James, there is a myriad of statistics to back up his case to pass up Harden for Most Valuable Player.