Now that the NBA season is halfway over, it is time to reflect and predict. The West is the best it’s ever been. LeBron is back in Cleveland. Clay Thompson put up 37 in a quarter. The Spurs are flying under the radar, but Father Time may finally be creeping up the backs of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and even Tony Parker. The individuals in the league have never been more prolific. There is a plethora of superstars, both young and old. Former Kentucky teammates Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins are rapidly becoming the two best big men in the game. It is all there.
The MVP conversation is still wide open; however the two names that have been coming up consistently are Stephen Curry and James Harden. The former is averaging 23 ppg and eight apg, while shooting 39 percent from the three point line. The latter is averaging 27 PPG, 6 APG, and 5 RPG. Both are natural scorers. They each have a knack for getting open off the dribble and creating space, and they are masters of the off-balance jumper. Curry has developed into a scoring point guard who now has incredible vision. Neither are great defenders, Harden being worse. Each of their teams is a contender in the West, and although both guys deserve to be in the conversation, there is one man that is not getting the respect he deserves. Mr. James, I’ve got your back.
LeBron’s Cavs are 29-20 and are currently on a ten-game winning streak. James has had a few ailments that have caused him to miss 10 games this season, more than any year of his career. In those games, the Cavs have been 1-9. With LeBron in the lineup, they are 28-11. In most cases, it is naïve to point at one single player or circumstance as the cause of a team’s complete turnaround. LeBron however, is an exception due to his unique abilities and leadership.
Physically, he’s a 6’8, 250-lb. super athlete who can play point guard and defend centers. Unlike Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and James Harden, LeBron is not obsessed shooting, but with making the most intelligent decisions on the court. That high IQ decision making in itself is a form of leadership. When Kyrie Irving sees James passing, moving without the ball, and giving it all on defense, then he is going to be compelled to the same. Along with all of that, let’s just look at the stats.
He’s scoring 26 points a game, with six assists and as many rebounds. In a season in which he’s been hindered by injuries, carrying a team that has developed a losing mentality over the four seasons prior to this one, LeBron’s numbers are the same efficient, prolific and consistent ones that he’s put up during his four-time-MVP career. Although voter fatigue is legitimate and understandable, LeBron is still the most gifted and important player in the NBA after more than 11 seasons. Let’s not forget that this is still The King’s league.