LeBron James could bring home the first MVP for the Los Angeles Lakers since Kobe Bryant in 2009.
The Los Angeles Lakers have the best superstar duo in the league in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That duo led the Lakers to the NBA Finals and is the main reason why the Lakers are favorites to go back-to-back this season.
Before the season, I personally thought Davis had a much better chance of winning the MVP award this season. While he certainly still has a chance (and his three-point shot is the key to unlocking it), it has become clear through a tenth of the season that LeBron is the much safer pick.
It goes without saying, but it is still very early in the season and there is a lot left to unfold. However, multiple factors are in favor of James not just being a better candidate than Davis, but being the frontrunner.
First, let’s talk about the players who had the best chances before the season.
Luka still has a tremendous shot of winning the MVP award as he is undoubtedly the best young player in the league and was receiving the most hype before the year to win the award.
Thus far, Luka has not played at an MVP level. He is still great, but not an MVP level. Luka is averaging 25.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game, with his biggest knock being the 19.5% three-point shooting.
That will get better. Undoubtedly. However, I am not sold on Dallas being good enough for Luka to swing the conversation over LeBron. I don’t love Dallas’ depth and their defense is concerning. Things will get better when Kristaps Porzingis returns, however, Dallas has 40-32 written all over them to be the fifth or sixth seed in the West.
If Luka won the MVP with a 40-32 record then he would have the third-lowest winning percentage by an MVP in NBA history. I think we are one year away.
You already know the narrative. Voters vote on these awards based on narrative and Giannis would have to do something otherworldy to win a third-straight MVP (as dumb as it is, that is how it works, or else LeBron would have seven-plus MVPs).
Giannis has been his usual self and has not taken that otherworldly step. His usage rate is down 4% on the year thus far, which is probably a sign that he will stay around the same.
This is the biggest sleeper as KD is coming off of injury and is going to be on a top-three team in the East and is Kevin Durant. Durant has been fantastic, although he has to miss a week because of COVID-19 protocols.
That alone won’t take him out of contention and he is the biggest threat to LeBron James. That is worth mentioning. Thus far this season, KD is averaging 28.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists on .514/.455/.885 shooting. Elite.
Now, what about LeBron?
The narrative against LeBron James before the season was that the Lakers would be (rightfully) cautious with his playing time and would be load managing him to keep him healthy for the playoffs.
That has not been the case thus far. LeBron has played all seven games, albeit he is averaging the fewest minutes of his career at 32.1. However, his playing time and output is only going to go up as they ramp him up throughout the year, improving his averages.
His averages are not all that impressive (for his standards). He is averaging 23.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game. His numbers would have to get better, but they almost certainly will get better with the Lakers not resting LeBron as anticipated.
LeBron has been full steam ahead on the court thus far this year and that is with a bum ankle. Once he is 100%, and is gearing up for the games that really matter, we will see LeBron start to take the form that he did for the Los Angeles Lakers last season before the hiatus. He was averaging 30 points, 10.6 assists and 9.4 rebounds per game in March last year.
That point of the season will come, and with the preseason competition not being as much of a threat, we should consider LeBron James as the MVP frontrunner.