Now that NBA All-Star weekend has come and gone and the regular season resumes, the conversation of this season’s MVP rumble on. As players such as Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard are making compelling cases for the trophy as the best player in the league, one can’t help but be reminded of the towering presence of the one and only Lebron James.
Depending on who you ask, James is considered to be the best of the best. I can admit, I have not always been a James fan. I won’t call myself a hater because that seems like a strong word. Let’s just say, I really didn’t care for his game. A younger me found his before-game antics and on-court flopping to be annoying.
I just couldn’t get into the aura of Lebron James. But one thing I can admit is that the man is phenomenal on the court. Once he joined my beloved Los Angeles Lakers, I was able to enjoy his playing a lot more than when he was playing in the Eastern Conference giving my team the blues.
As he continues his 17th year in the NBA, James’ star is shining even more brightly. He just keeps getting better. Here are five reasons why I, a former Lebron James semi-hater, believe he is this season’s MVP.
5. Poised for a Western Conference takeover
The 2019-2020 NBA season was full of firsts. Most noticeably, last season was the first to be played during a global pandemic. In June 2020, it was announced the NBA planned to resume the season after a three-month hiatus. This meant that the regular season would resume around the time the NBA Finals are usually underway.
After the Lakers won the championship in October, many questioned if James and the Lakers had enough time to recoup before the new season started in December. Despite a four-game losing streak last month, James has consistently helped the Lakers stay near the top of the standings. The Lakers are currently holding up at the No. 3 position in the Western Conference.
4. The Lakers can’t win a title without him
Yes, I know, the sample size on this stat is very small. James has only missed one game this season, a game the Lakers would go on to lose to the Sacramento Kings by three points. If this season’s 0-1 stat does not impress you, let’s take a look at last season. During the 2018-2019 season, the Lakers were 9-18 without James. Even I can’t deny the truth that the Lakers are just better with James on the court.
3. James is the stat master for the Lakers
This one feels self-explanatory. James is averaging 25.8 points per game with Anthony Davis trailing behind him averaging 22.5. When it comes to assists, James is averaging 7.8 dimes per game. Dennis Schroder trails behind him with an average of 4.5. When it comes to rebounds and steals, James is neck and neck with Davis. The difference between both stats is below .5 percent.
2. The Lakers are better when James is on the court
Okay, this point is kind of a piggyback off of my fourth point but hear me out. When Lebron is in the game, the Lakers’ offensive rating is 112 versus 103.6 when he’s out of the game. Defensively, the Lakers also score more when James is in the game. Their rating defensive rating sits at 102.9 versus 108 when he’s off-court.
James is playing at a high level at the age of 36
Year in and year out, James continuously shows us why he is one of the top players, not just in the league, but also one of the greatest players ever. Of all the players currently in the league, Lebron James is the fifth oldest. Rounding out the top five is J.J. Reddick, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Iguodala, and Udonis Haslem, who is currently the oldest player in the NBA.
I don’t even need (nor want) to bring up any of their stats because we all know these veterans are not touching James when it comes to who’s the best out of the five of them. There is only one player who has had a year 17 as good as James. That would be the late great Kobe Bryant.
I could be biased because Kobe is my favorite player, but anyone playing at Bryant’s level at the age of 36 deserves to be MVP.
Featured image caption: LeBron James in pre-game warm-ups before the Los Angeles Lakers play the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 1, 2020. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline