LeBron is the clear MVP once again


So far this season, Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James is the clear-cut NBA MVP.

Queue the “LeBron James fatigue”. The reality of the NBA MVP race every year is this: we want something and someone new to exceed our expectations; we want each year to have its own special narrative, and that generally clouds our objective judgment. This season already has some great candidates and stories that fit this theory.

We can all gush over the emergence of The Greek Freak up in Milwaukee, as he leads a team that has higher expectations than ever before; we can acknowledge the job Kyrie Irving has done so far in leading the Boston Celtics, as he clearly has found a new home that gives him an opportunity to be the catalyst of a great team; and we can give credit to James Harden for rebounding from his infamous playoff meltdown and having an extraordinary start to the season for a team that has been, frankly, lights out in the Western Conference so far.

Sure, we can make an MVP-type case for any one of these candidates.

I bet a few more feel-good stories will emerge over the course of the season to add to the drama of the race.

Honestly, though, all this is doing is overshadowing the reality of who the most valuable player actually is. All we are doing is covering up the fact that LeBron James is the clear and runaway MVP of the league this season and it’s really not even close.

The basketball world acknowledges that James has been the best basketball player in the world for quite while now. Many feel that he is at least a top-two player of all-time and some would even give him the nod as the greatest player of all-time.

A lot of us also believed that James could start showing signs of age and that his game would start to unravel and crumble before our eyes. In truth, he’s not quite as athletic as he used to be. Yet even in his fifteenth season, he appears to be better than he ever has been—and the numbers back it up.

So far this year, James is averaging 28.3 points, 8.7 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game; all marks that are in the top-five of his storied career. His offensive efficiency rating is the second-highest of his career—just slightly behind his 2012-13 season.

Perhaps most remarkable about James’ season is his shooting efficiency. This has been by far the most impressive season shooting the ball for James in his career.

James’ shooting overall shooting percentage is the highest of his career at 57.6%. As usual, James has been very efficient in the paint and near the rim. Consequentially, the King is shooting the best he ever has on two-point field goals at 63.2%. James, who had a nice year from three-point range last season, has managed to do even better this year—shooting a career-best 41.6% from three, and averaging the most made three-pointers per game in his career.

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After struggling from the free-throw line a year ago, James has increased his shooting percentage to 76.8% — the third-highest mark of his career. His effective field goal percentage (63.0%) and true shooting percentage (65.8%) are both far and away career-bests. His shooting across the board has been phenomenal, and has been a key reason why Cleveland has been able to turn things around after a slow start.

On top of his shooting, James’ effort on the defensive end has been better than some tend to believe. Despite his overall defensive rating (a statistic that’s reflective of the team’s overall defense) being the second-worst of his career (107), James is still averaging 1.5 steals per game and is averaging a career-best 1.1 blocks per game.

It’s scary to think that a player, who has accomplished so much and is considered arguably the greatest to ever play, could be greater than he ever has. But the numbers show that James could be playing the best basketball of his life.

He has managed to do all of this after losing his sidekick in Kyrie Irving, a MVP-caliber teammate. While James has had a solid bench this year, he has lacked the true second option that he had for the last three years in Irving.

Amazingly, James has been able to adjust his game and lead the oldest roster in the NBA, without a clear second option, out of a 5-7 hole and back near the top of the Eastern Conference standings once again.

We’ll all rave about the other fresh, new stories in the NBA this season. We’ll all buy into the hype of some player who will stuff the stat sheet and get knocked out in the first or second round of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, #23 in Cleveland will continue to do what he always does: lead his team to the NBA Finals and be by far the most valuable player in our league.

Related Story: Could LeBron sign with the Houston Rockets?

*All statistics used in this article gathered from www.basketball-reference.com (prior to December 13th, 2017)