LeBron James had a lot at stake this season after missing the playoffs last year. He had a great regular season, but MVP of this year plays Milwaukee. However, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA title will help James reclaim an unofficial title: the best player in the world.
The best player in the world is not always the NBA MVP. If this were true, Michael Jordan would have more than five MVP awards. James held the title for a long time during his time in Cleveland and Miami, but his grip began to loosen.
Kevin Durant did not win an MVP trophy during his time with the Golden State Warriors, but was still considered the best in the world. Even last season, after bringing a championship to Toronto, Kawhi Leonard was considered the best in the world despite the fact that he had not yet won an MVP trophy in the league.
It seemed like the torch was slowly passing from James to the next generation. He remained among the top five players, but the best in the game became a questionable subject.
This season, James has decided to reclaim this title.
The Lakers have been excellent throughout 2019-2020, clocking a season of 63 wins before the game was suspended due to COVID-19. They were playing their best basketball at the time. They have won 12 of their last 15 games, with big wins against the L.A. Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets.
James was carrying the team through it all. He played in 14 of those 15 games, averaging 28.2 points, 10.2 assists and 8.4 rebounds, while shooting 36.9% over three. Taking his game to another level, James has attacked the basket on every opportunity he finds.
Overall this season, James is shooting 34.9% deep, but he finds his reach and charges the defenses if they keep him spinning or go under the screens.
James’ recent score increase has not slowed his creative ability for his teammates, which has always been a central tenet of his game. He has developed great chemistry with Anthony Davis, and that has paid off for the Lakers in many ways. regards.
James also dominates as a post-up option for the Lakers. According to Synergy Sports Technology, he has his best average points per possession in the position (including assists outside the station) at 1.16 per possession. He finds himself face to face with the defenders, or he runs away.
Defensively, James has been on another level this season. In recent years, he has been on the defensive before increasing the playoff intensity. This season, he has been locked up from the start.
For the year, the Lakers had a defensive rating of 103.0 when James is on the floor. He has been excellent in rotation and helping the assistant all season. He even took another step in his last nine games before the game was suspended with a rating of 99.4 when he was on the ground.
Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press
As the season came to an end before its abrupt break, James and the Lakers began to advance to the playoffs. They had the second highest net score with 7.5 points and a defensive score with 104.4 in the NBA in their last 15 games.
In pursuit of a ghost
In one Sports Illustrated interview with Lee Jenkins after winning the 2016 NBA Championship, James said, “My motivation is this ghost I am chasing. The ghost played in Chicago. ”
Two years later, James said sure ESPN more” More than an athlete series which the 2016 championship made him GOAT in his mind.
ESPN The last dance the documentary brought the debate to the fore. It showed the younger generation who could have missed out on how good Jordan was. It reminded the older generation of what they were doing. The debate seems to have shifted in favor of Jordan.
The return of the NBA this year is an opportunity for James to add another championship to his resume. It is closer to the end of his career than to the start, so every chance must be capitalized.
Winning the championship this year will continue the debate over GOAT.
Rest against rust
Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
James has always taken incredible care of his body. It has been reported to spend as much as $ 1.5 million per year to maintain it. The shelter in place has not slowed him down as far as practice. Being in good shape is one thing, but being ready for the game is another.
James was on a roll when the season was suspended, and a break like this could disrupt this flow. Even the flow with its own teammates may have developed rust. Shams Charania reported for Stadium that James organized private training with some teammates in preparation for the resumption of play.
The break served to give James a much needed rest considering how much he is supposed to deliver. Its usage rate, the highest on the team, was a concern. There was concern that there was not enough left in the tank as the playoffs unfolded. These concerns should disappear with the break.
Each team will have to deal with rust. The Lakers and James have a 5.5-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers for the top seed in the West. That means they don’t have to hit the ground, but they need to find their flow as the playoffs unfold.
With only eight regular season games in the NBA return to action plan, the MVP award is out of reach. However, if James can lead the Lakers to a championship, he will send a message to the rest of the NBA that he is not ready to give up the title of best basketball player in the world. It could also reignite the biggest debate of all time.
Mo Dakhil spent six years with the Los Angeles Clippers and two years with the San Antonio Spurs as video coordinator, as well as three years with the Australian National Men’s Team. Follow him on Twitter, @MoDakhil_NBA.