There is no player in the NBA more capable of being the Most Valuable Player than LeBron James. However, and let this season serve as example, just being capable of being the MVP doesn’t make you the MVP.
Choose your favorite hot take guy; I’m about to put my (Bayless, Cowheard, Greenberg, A. Smith) hat on for this blog.
During a pre-game locker room media huddle, it was reported to James, who averaged 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 8.7 assists during the 2016-2017 regular season that he had finished fourth in MVP voting, thus removing him from contention as a finalist. Upon this note, the always-political LeBron said, “my only job is to try to be the MVP for this team every night, put my teammates, put our franchise in position to be successful and ultimately compete for a championship. For me, I know what I bring to the table. This league knows what I bring to the table. That’s for you guys to write about. It’s not for me to be concerned about.”
Although James is WITHOUT question the best player the league, yet his team went 51-31, falling to second place in the Eastern Conference.
How is that even possible?
Despite having the highest payroll in the NBA at $126,590,163, which is a full $11,850,131 more than the second-most expensive team, the Clippers, they still earned just the second seed.
Are you just flushing dollars down the toilet?
Even though the Cavaliers had a trio of All-Stars (Love, Irving, James), they still played just the 20th-best scoring defense in the league.
Despite all of their regular season struggles, they managed to start the postseason 10-0, sweeping the Pacers and Raptors with a pair of road wins to start the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. Their streak ended last night when they would fall to Boston last night 111-108, who were lacking their own MVP candidate, Isaiah Thomas.
Last night offered a reminder to fans that LeBron was prone to something his fellow-MVP contenders didn’t ever fall victim to; taking the night off.
James, who’s averaged 34.3 points per game in the Cavaliers first ten playoff games, managed just 11 in the loss to the Celitcs, going 4-of-13 from the field and 0-of-4 from three. Additionally, James turned the ball over six times in the loss.
All signs were pointing to another Cavaliers victory, even at halftime. Cleveland had won the previous two match-ups by outscoring Boston 247-190, or by 57 total points. Cleveland led by as many as 21, but still gave the game away.
While the Most Valuable Player is not determined in the postseason, we can certainly use this as a reminder for some of the metrics used in LeBron’s narrative this season.
Additionally, LeBron’s finish as the 4th-place MVP vote-getter is the right place for a guy who was a part of this season’s “rest your big guns” controversy. Despite apparent clean health throughout the season, James’ didn’t dress for action in 8 games.
Though the Cavaliers struggled without James, their greater-than-30 losses came as a disappointing metric to the three-time winner’s candidacy.
The Cavaliers finished with a worse record than the 55-27 Houston Rockets, although their MVP finalist, James Harden partook in 81-of-82 regular season games. Harden was rested for the team’s finale, when neither a win or loss would change their team’s seeding.
With three championships, three MVPs, and as much talent as any player in the game’s history, LeBron is certainly an annual candidate for the award, but this season’s outcome shouldn’t have allotted him the crown.