Usually by the All-Star break, it is pretty clear to NBA basketball handicappers, those placing NBA picks and anyone following the league closely who will be the MVP for that particular season.
Since LeBron elevated his game to superstar status, he’s been in the MVP four of the last six seasons and the two years he failed to win, Kevin Durant (2013-14) and Derrick Rose (2010-11) had remarkable years and were deserving winners.
In terms of this season, LeBron has taken a little step backward in terms of public attention for a variety of reasons. Nothing against the city of Cleveland, but as a media market, Miami is naturally going to have more of a buzz. LeBron did leave northern Ohio for a reason and the Heat had the right mix of players that were in their prime, the right coach, ownership and management which meant immediate credibility in attempt to win championships.
Returning to his “home”, James was matched together with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, who both have tremendous talent, but they played on teams which were never –play on – teams for NBA picks and it takes time to assemble the right roster to win rings. James at 30 years old is at a phase of his career where greatness is just presumed and people start looking for the new “flavor of the day” to throw their attention at, especially in today’s social media world.
With the emergence of Golden State and Atlanta as teams and other younger players really coming into their own as true stars, James is not so much overshadowed, but overlooked, particularly the way the Cavaliers played most of the first half of the season.
LeBron Needs Monster Second Half and Help
What does King James have to do become MVP for a fifth time? At this time, Ladbrooks sportsbook has him as the second choice at 7-2 betting odds to Stephen Curry, who just a bit past 3-1 odds. While the NBA betting odds are certainly not insurmountable, public perception can be difficult to overcome.
James is second in scoring in the league at 26 points a game (as of 2/9) and Curry is eighth at 23.6 PPG. Curry is also fifth in assists at 8.1 PG and if you extrapolate his scoring over 48 minutes, the Golden State point guard actually moves all the way up to third in scoring (34.2), one slot ahead of James (33.9).
Numbers however only tell a part of the story. The Warriors and Atlanta have been the lead story all year, both setting franchise records for winning streaks. The Hawks are devoid of a breakout star, but Curry has been a poster boy since arriving and his game has gotten to a point of completeness and he is the best player on the best team. It is not unusual for the top player on the team with the best regular season record to win the award and it has happened four of the past six seasons.
By the All-Star break, the Cavaliers will have played 55 games, which leave 27 contests remaining. Cleveland will not have the best record in the NBA, nonetheless, for James to earn further consideration; the Cavs will have to stay out of the hot oven, possibly winning 23 of 27 and maybe climbing to the second seed in the East. Also, it would help if LeBron also moved up into the scoring lead in the NBA and at the moment his best opportunity would appear to have greater three-point accuracy. His current level of 34.5 percent is his lowest since his first season with Miami.
Does James have anyone else who could move up?
James Harden is third in the odds at 4-1 and Anthony Davis is 9-1. The New Orleans center is on his way to taking home some hardware, but it will not be this season. Davis is a breakout stud, but the Pelicans are not on many people’s radar and have made infrequent television appearances.
Harden leads the league in scoring at 27.5 PPG and is the leader of Houston, but is just approaching the hierarchy of NBA greatness. How this award seems to work is you establish that you are truly worthy and the next year if you play equal or better and your team has greater success, your number comes up more readily.
Can LeBron James win his fifth MVP, yes he can, but he will have to play even better than he has and needs to take his team to the edge of greatness and hope Golden State and Curry slips a little.