The race for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award is once again crowded by a handful of worthy candidates. We’re approaching the halfway point of the season so it’s also on its highest peak. Just like any other year, roughly 8-10 players are currently making a case, including Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James – or is he?
Up until days ago, James was a one of the top-ranked names in the list, and with good reason. Now, all those reasons have evaporated, which makes us remember how competitive MVP races are.
Let’s back up for a little bit. Here’s a summary of what James did before the recent slump:
From December 23rd to February 13th, which spans 27 games, James averaged 25.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.9 assists on 49.8% shooting from the field and a then-career-high 39.1% from three (he was actually above 40% at one point). The Lakers also looked good, went 21-6, and had the most consistent defense in the league.
As if it wasn’t enough, he led the team in assists 24 times, points 17 times, and rebounds seven times in the 27 outings. He’s simply loaded with receipts to prove that he rightfully deserves the MVP nomination.
Then, the slump came, which began right when his co-star, Anthony Davis, got hurt:
Though the Lakers have since won, that bumpy tilt from February 15 to the 25th dented James’s case big time. LeBron’s solo leadership of the Lake Show resulted to a 1-5 slate in six games, with each loss having its own ugliness.
In between was an interesting trend as well – the three teams (Jazz, Nets, and Nuggets) that have a winning record beat them by double-digits, while the teams (Heat and Wizards) who own a losing record edged them out in a hard-fought finish… at Staples Center!
That lone win was over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who own the worst record in the league. They didn’t come out as impressively as they should, only winning by eight points.
Numbers-wise, James was in his classic form, posting 25.8 points, 8.1 boards, and 8.2 dimes on 51.6 FG% in the said stretch. Beyond than that, though, there was not a lot that indicated that he should be an MVP frontrunner. Not only did they lose, James either played passive or made errors in the most crucial stages.
Can he climb his way back into the top spots?
Yes, but it’s going to be tough. They have to win consistently again and James needs to be on his ‘A’ game every night. Even if he did, it won’t be a surefire case because the Joel Embiids and Nikola Jokics of the world are also there, and who knows which mid-tier candidate(s) will suddenly explode?
James can definitely build on his case after helping end the Lakers’ slump with their last two wins, which have come against the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors. He’s averaged 23.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists in those victories.
Also, here’s the Lakers schedule this March. It’s good that most is at their own floor, but most aren’t pushover opponents either:
- March 1 – @GSW (Won 117-91)
- March 2 – PHX
- March 3 – SAC
- March 4 – IND
- March 16 – @GSW
- March 17 – MIN
- March 19 – CHA
- March 21 – ATL
- March 22 – @PHX
- March 24 – @NOP
- March 26 – PHI
- March 27 – CLE
- March 29 – ORL