Why LeBron Is Not The MVP

The Basketball Gods Have Failed Me: LeBron Wins MVP

5/14/12 in NBA   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Apr 21, 2011; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) sits on the floor in pain during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in game three of the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center. The Heat defeated the 76ers 100-94. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
LeBron officially received his 3rd NBA MVP award this past Saturday, putting him in the company some of the greatest players the game has ever seen. LeBron's season was tremendous, putting together a highlight reel while consistently posting great numbers for the Heat, who finished second in the eastern conference. LeBron is an unbelievable player, there's no disputing that. Some of the things that he does with a basketball have never been seen before. His combination of size, athleticism, ball handling, and court vision are simply ridiculous. If you went back in time 15 years and explained LeBron to the world's biggest basketball fan he'd laugh and call you an idiot. But he exists, and he is exceptional. However, he is not this year's MVP.

MVP, for those who may have forgotten, stands for Most VALUABLE Player. The player who offers the most value to your team. Sure, while LeBron is on the court he stuffs the stat sheet for the Heat, I agree with that, but how does he better his team? Let's get real for a second here, if you take LeBron out of the picture, the Heat still have the best one-two punch in the entire eastern conference. Don't give me any Melo and Amar'e bull, because that obviously has yet to work and Amar'e is a terrible basketball player (we'll talk about why some other time). The next best one-two combo in the east is Rondo and Pierce, but I think everyone can say they'd rather have Wade and Bosh, unless your one of those halfwits from Boston. Keep in mind that in Bosh's last year with the Raptors he averaged 24 and 10.8, and he'd likely post similar numbers with LeBron gone.

My point here is that without LeBron, Wade and Bosh would lead the Heat to... the second seed in the eastern conference. Exactly where they're at now. Would the Pacers really have passed them? I don't believe they would. They did only finish 4 games behind the Heat, and if not for LeBron, the Heat may have lost more of the games that Wade missed, but you better bet that Wade wouldn't have missed as many games if LeBron wasn't there to take the reigns. The Pacers don't have one player who's as good as Bosh, and the Heat have Bosh plus a player who's better than Bosh. Wade and Bosh would take over games just like Wade and LeBron did all season. In the one game that LeBron mised (before the Heat started resting their big three), the Heat beat the Hawks (4th best record in the east). Wade won a championship with a post-prime Shaq and little else. Wade could easily get a two seed with an in-prime Bosh.

So is there really not a player in this league more valuable than LeBron James? Is there no player who took their team from one playoff seed and propelled them to a higher seed?

May 5, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts at the end of the game against the Dallas Mavericks during game four of the 2012 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center. The Thunder beat the Mavs 103-97.  Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIREMy MVP: Kevin Durant. This guy had an exceptional season and posted numbers quite similar to LeBron's. I'll put their numbers side by side for you. LeBron/Durant: 27.1/28 PPG, 7.9/8.0 RPG, 6.2/3.5 APG. Obviously the assists are the big difference, but Durant slightly bettered LeBron in the other two categories. I'm simply trying to show that their numbers are similar. Stats aren't the reason that LeBron's MVP bothers me. The main reason is what Kevin Durant was able to do for his Oklahoma City Thunder team.

Imagine a world where the Trail Blazers didn't pass on Kevin Durant. Actually, that would make the Blazers a playoff team, so just imagine a world where Kevin Durant doesn't exist. That would leave the Thunder with Russell Westbrook and James Harden running the show, and defensive role players filling the other positions. I must say, I LOVE Harden. Can't say I'm a big Westbrook fan, but I do believe he's quite gifted athletically. These guys don't pass much. Westbrook averaged 5.5 assists this season, and I'd love to know how many of those were simply swinging the ball to Durant for a jump shot. Harden is the more talented passer of the two, despite averaging less assists (3.7), but he's still no pure point guard. These guys score, that's what they do, and they happen to be very good at it. Two score first guards and a bunch of defensive role players. Hmm, who does that sound like? Oh! Sounds like the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks' goal is to put up points with guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis while big men focus on rebounding and defense. Quite similar to how the Thunder would operate without Durant, right? Don't think I'm an idiot just yet, I know that the Thunder would be better than the Bucks. Westbrook and Harden is a better tandem than Jennings and Ellis. Perkins and Ibaka are better defensively than the Bucks' bigs. But it's clear that these teams are similar, and the Bucks missed the playoffs in a significantly weaker eastern conference.

The Durant-less Thunder would find themselves dropping to at least the 5th seed in the west, being passed by the Lakers, Grizzlies, and Clippers. It's quite possible they would even end up falling behind the Nuggets and the Mavericks as well. The Thunder without Durant would be somewhere between the 5th and 7th seed, but with Durant they were 2nd in the conference. THAT is an MVP. Kevin Durant propelled his team from mediocrity to excellence, and that's why he is more VALUABLE than LeBron James.

I'm not saying that LeBron is eliminated from MVP discussions because of his Superfriends. However, in order for him to be an MVP, his team has to perform incredibly. I'd probably have given LeBron MVP this year if they had finished with the NBA's best record, but they didn't. LeBron may have had the best stats and the most outstanding year, but it's obvious that Durant's impact on the Thunder was more valuable than LeBron's impact on the Heat, which means that LeBron is not the league's most VALUABLE player. Oh well.

Just a side note, my MVP runner up is Chris Paul. How much the Clippers improved this year speaks for itself.
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