I know LeBron James himself stated he believes there’s no chance either he or Dwyane Wade will win an NBA MVP Award this year. I’m aware Amar’e Stoudemire is the current favorites for the award, and deservedly so considering the wonderful year the perennial All-Star forward is having in New York.
I understand Dirk Nowitzki is having a better statistical year in many ways (54.5 percent from the floor compared to 50.2 percent) than he did when he won the MVP during the 2006-07 season, which is a compelling reason to put him near the top of any list of candidates.
I recognize Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, and Chris Paul are all posting great numbers for their respective teams, and are, along with Boston’s Rajon Rondo, making this probably the toughest year I can ever remember to say just who is the best point guard in the NBA.
Of course, Kobe Bryant is Kobe Bryant, and will always be in the hunt for the award, as will Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard.
Yet, there are still two compelling reasons why LeBron James should, and I believe will, win his third-consecutive MVP Award to join Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird as the only men since the 1955-56 season to win the prestigious honor for a third straight season.
While LeBron’s stats this year have dropped a tick from last year, they are still head and shoulders above the rest of the NBA. He’s currently averaging 25.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 7.2 APG to go along with 1.5 steals per night while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Also, while the statistical measuring system created by ESPN’s John Hollinger called PER states a rating of 25.0 is a weak MVP candidate, while a strong MVP candidate would need to be above 27.5 (a runaway MVP candidate is anything above 30.0), there are only three players currently above 25.0 on that scale; Chris Paul (26.46), LeBron James (26.27), and Dwyane Wade (25.94).
Nowitzki comes in with a PER of 24.93, but considering the second-best PER rating on his team is Tyson Chandler with 17.3, it’s obvious Dirk isn’t sharing much of the load with anyone. This in and of itself could be a good argument for his candidacy for some, but I’m of the opinion Wade having a PER of 25.94 makes LeBron’s 26.27 PER that much more impressive. Oh, and Chris Bosh currently has a PER of 19.91.
Everyone knows team success plays into MVP voting. Arguments can be made this shouldn’t always be the case. When LeBron was awarded his first MVP during the 2008-09 season, many believed Dwyane Wade should have won after leading his team back from the 15-win 2007-08 debacle to a respectable 43-39 season (a 28 win turnaround), and the playoffs.
However, James had helped his Cleveland Cavaliers win 21 more games himself, as they went from 45-37 to 66-16. While Wade was the NBA’s leading scorer that year averaging over 30 PPG, and both had a PER over 30 (the first and only time that’s happened in the history of the NBA), the guy whose team won 66 games got the nod in the voting.
Team success will play into this year’s vote as well I’m sure; as it should. Yet, it won’t just be Miami’s success that plays into it, but LeBron’s former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, lack of success that will play a role. That is precisely why I think this will be a runaway victory for LeBron when all is said and done.
James’ greatest challengers for the award are playing on teams I don’t think will win as many games as Miami. When you factor in how poorly the Cavaliers are playing without LeBron along with how improved the Miami Heat are with him, I don’t think there is any way the voters could justify not voting for James.
In fact, about the only candidate who might challenge him isn’t on another team at all, but the guy he lobs alley-oops to on a daily basis; Dwyane Wade.
Current PER Stats at ESPN