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Is LeBron James the real MVP?

There’s been a lot of talk throughout the NBA season about the ridiculous numbers being put up by James Harden and Russell Westbrook. According to espn.com, James Harden is currently averaging 29.1 points, 11.2 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game and has his team in third place in the Western Conference one year after they were eighth in the standings and pretty much irrelevant. This year the Rockets look like at least a legitimate contender in the West against the Spurs and Warriors and Harden is playing the best basketball of his career. Russell Westbrook is working on a season unlike any we have seen since the 1961-62 season. He is trying to become the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double for an entire season. He is currently averaging 31.8 points, 10.3 assists, and 10.6 rebounds per game, and he has 32 triple-doubles on the season. While Westbrook is putting up monster numbers, he only has his team in sixth place in the Western Conference. They do not look like they are in any place to contend for a title. There has also been some talk of Kawhi Leonard being in the mix for the MVP. Even though his numbers aren’t as great as the other two, Leonard is now the most important player on the Spurs since Tim Duncan retired. He is averaging 26.3 points, 3.4 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game. He is also a much better defender than the other two as he is the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the NBA. He does exactly what is asked of him in Popovich’s system on offense and locks down the opposing team’s best wing player on a nightly basis. One guy who is getting overlooked in this conversation is four-time NBA MVP LeBron James. One of the reasons that LeBron is not getting any love in this conversation is because everyone has grown to just expect him to be the best player in the world every year. We have all just grown accustomed to the fact that he will put up consistently great numbers and lead his team to the NBA Finals every year. I guess people just grow numb watching a guy play for a championship six straight years on two different teams. I thought people woke up to the fact that LeBron was still the best player on the planet after e led every player on both teams in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks in the 2015-16 NBA Finals. He is the only player in any series to lead both teams in each of those five statistical categories ever. He completely dominated the entire series while last year’s unanimous MVP, Steph Curry, shrunk and nearly disappeared under the pressure of the big moment. LeBron is averaging 25.9 points, 8.9 assists, and 8.4 rebounds per game. I know those numbers are not as great as Harden’s and Westbrook’s this regular season, but they are comparable. He is also second in the NBA in minutes played at the age of 32 and is always there making a big play when it’s needed and willing his team to victory. While he does put up great stats, LeBron’s worth to his team transcends his numbers. Even though the Cavs are loaded with other talent, they can’t win when LeBron doesn’t play. Since his return to the Cavs their winning percentage when he doesn’t play is worse than the winning percentage of the even the worst teams in the league, but with him, they get to the NBA Finals. I’m sure that if he missed significant time, they would adjust and get better playing without him, but they would never be title contenders. His “value” is obvious on a nightly basis when he makes everyone on his team better just by being on the floor. People talk about how LeBron complains and needs all this great talent around him to win. In reality, the team is talented, but most of the guys surrounding him on the roster are considered cast-offs or has-beens. JR Smith was thrown into a trade from the Knicks to just get him off their roster, and by playing with LeBron, he’s now making about $14 million on average per year. Do you think Tristan Thompson would have gotten his monster deal without being LeBron’s teammate? Look how much better Matthew Dellavedova looked playing with LeBron. errick Williams, Deron Williams, and Channing Frye were all sent out of town because they couldn’t make it onto the floor for their old teams, and they’re now contributing at a high level. Richard Jefferson wouldn’t be around anymore if he wasn’t playing with LeBron. He leads by example and shows guys what it takes to win, and they all buy-in to maximize their potential. If we give the MVP to the guy who is most “valuable” to his team and organization, it can’t possibly go to anyone but LeBron.

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