Why LeBron James is the 2017 MVP no matter what

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Why LeBron James is the 2017 MVP no matter what

Postby shakespeare » March 20, 2017, 3:27 pm

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"LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world." That is a statement, even in a world of alternative facts and very little consensus on much of anything, with which everyone agrees.

"LeBron James is the 2017 NBA MVP." That is another statement that when you look at the facts in front of you, should be equally obvious.

Yet it isn’t.

There are four candidates for MVP this year: LeBron, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard.

Most years, any of these guys would have a very strong case for MVP.

This is not most years. This year, you have a player — LeBron James, one of the two greatest players in the history of the sport — possibly having his best season ever.

The case for LeBron over Harden
LeBron’s 2016-17 season has been comprehensively dominant.

Consider Harden, who is shooting nearly 10 full percentage points worse from the field than LeBron — 44.3 percent to James’ 53.8 percent. LeBron is also shooting a better percentage from the 3-point line — 39.8 percent to Harden’s 36 percent. (Also know that LeBron is shooting better from three than Kevin Durant and dead even with Steph Curry).

Then there are the turnovers.

Harden is on pace to obliterate the NBA record for turnovers in a season, which he already owns from 2015-16 (374). With three-quarters of the season gone, Harden already has 370 and is on pace for more than 450 turnovers. He'd even shatter the ABA record of 422 turnovers held by George McGinnis.

On the other side of the ball, LeBron is also a far better player than Harden. When LeBron is off the court, the Cavs allow 109.9 points per 100 possessions, 3.7 points more than when he's on the court.

The Rockets defense improves by 4.4 points per 100 possessions while Harden is resting. How big is a 4.4-point difference? It's currently the same difference between the league's second-best defense, Golden State, and the league's 17th best defense, Toronto.

The case for LeBron over Westbrook
Russell has been wildly less efficient than LeBron, shooting 41.9% compared to LeBron's 53.8%. To give that some context, there are 57 players in the league averaging at least 13 field goal attempts this season. LeBron is first in field goal percentage, Russell is 54th — fourth from the bottom.

Moreover, history is not working in Westbrook’s favor. It has been 35 years since an MVP wasn't on a team that won at least 50 games. The Thunder are 35-28, so they'd have to go 15-4 the rest of the way to get to 50 wins.

The Thunder haven't had a 15-4 stretch at any point this season. They're not going to win 50 games.

The case for LeBron over Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is the most infuriating of all the MVP candidates because he has no case.

Don't get me wrong, Leonard is a tremendous basketball player, but he's simply not better than LeBron at anything on the offensive end of the floor. LeBron averages 2.2 more rebounds per game and an enormous 5.4 more assists per game than Leonard. LeBron is fourth in the league in assists per game, while Leonard tied for 54th.

Leonard is also a far less efficient scorer. Despite averaging 0.4 points more per game than LeBron, Leonard shoots 5.1 pecent worse from the field and 1.3 percent worse from 3.

But Leonard’s defense is incredible, right? Consider this revelation:

The Spurs defense is markedly better when Kawhi Leonard isn't playing.

Per 100 possessions, the Spurs allow 103.4 points per game with Leonard on the court. When he sits, the Spurs allow 95.7 points. That’s a negative 7.7-point difference.

Here's the bottom line
The final argument one might make for LeBron not winning MVP would be “value.” What would happen if you took Player X off of his team? Advance stats provide the answer.

If you are going off of the numbers above, Harden and Leonard are disqualified immediately.

LeBron and Westbrook both have a much higher net impact, with Westbrook accounting for 14.1 points per 100 possessions and LeBron at 15.1. What tilts this in LeBron's favor even further is that he's the difference between an excellent team and a terrible team, while Russ is the difference between a pretty good team and a terrible team.

LeBron James is universally accepted as the best player in the world. Typically, the universally accepted best player on the best team among the MVP contenders would be named MVP.

This year, that doesn't appear to be the case. People are doing mental gymnastics to convince themselves the MVP is someone other than LeBron. They can certainly try, but numbers, history, and common sense say otherwise.


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It's gonna hurt a lot of people's feelings when LeBron is named the '17 MVP, cause I'm sure the eye test says Westbrook or Harden or Kawhi.

But after you really look at the numbers, there's no way in the world that LeBron isn't MVP with averages of 26, 8, and 8 on 53% shooting from the field and 38% from the arc.
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Re: Why LeBron James is the 2017 MVP no matter what

Postby thewatcher » March 21, 2017, 7:39 am

I saw on ESPN that Westbrook and Harden are being 'given" rebounds off FT misses, 8 a game for Westbrook!! :o Adams and Kanter box out and he grabs an uncontested FT miss. Sneaky, I want to hear oiscar Robertson on ESPN tomorrow.
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Re: Why LeBron James is the 2017 MVP no matter what

Postby n8 the gr8 » March 21, 2017, 2:19 pm

^
I never watched Robertson but it's not like that didn't happen back in the day. Clyde's talked about letting Willis get garbage rebounds and hand them to him.

Those statistics make a pretty convincing case for Lebron. He also probably "should've" gotten some others, it's too late in his career to shaft him on MVPs.
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Re: Why LeBron James is the 2017 MVP no matter what

Postby nazrmohamed » March 21, 2017, 9:27 pm

If Lebron never played a game for the Cavs they'd probably still be a playoff team with two star in Kyrie and Love and a cast full of legendary roll and bench players. If Westbrook or Harden didn't play thier teams would be in the lottery. Does that not count for something?

Fg percentages matter but these guys are running Carmelo Anthony level side talent into the playoffs and hitting every part of the stat sheet. Im sorry, Im just me infatuated with triple doubles. And not just 10/10/10 either. Cmon. Lebron IS the best player in the league. He isn't the mvp based on some shot percentages.
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Re: Why LeBron James is the 2017 MVP no matter what

Postby shakespeare » March 22, 2017, 12:41 am

Valid argument, as usual. To basketball purists like ourselves, the thought of what the team would be without said player always counts for something. To the day, I believe James Harden [and even Goran Dragic] didn't receive the respect he deserved for carrying the Rockets to the '13 playoffs with no fellow All-Star nor former All-Star player on the roster https://www.google.com/amp/s/syndicatio ... p.amp.html

Harden didn't win it, though.

Westbrook deserves to win MVP. So does James Harden. Both players have carried their teams this season.

As for "Carmelo Anthony side level talent," although not true, I believe that goes both ways, meaning Carmelo's teammates hadn't played with franchise players the caliber of Westbrook and Harden, either.
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Re: Why LeBron James is the 2017 MVP no matter what

Postby thewatcher » March 22, 2017, 9:17 am

n8 the gr8 wrote:^
I never watched Robertson but it's not like that didn't happen back in the day. Clyde's talked about letting Willis get garbage rebounds and hand them to him.

Those statistics make a pretty convincing case for Lebron. He also probably "should've" gotten some others, it's too late in his career to shaft him on MVPs.
The year Oscar averaged a triple double, he came in third in the MVP vote. I started watching a couple years later, but my sense is that back then, people barely knew what a triple double was, much less his bigs colluding to prop up the rebounds. Can't say for sure, but I don't think it happened that way n8. The Big O was a man among-st boys, he was 20 pounds heavier and taller than any other guard at the time.
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Re: Why LeBron James is the 2017 MVP no matter what

Postby n8 the gr8 » March 22, 2017, 5:13 pm

thewatcher wrote:The year Oscar averaged a triple double, he came in third in the MVP vote. I started watching a couple years later, but my sense is that back then, people barely knew what a triple double was, much less his bigs colluding to prop up the rebounds. Can't say for sure, but I don't think it happened that way n8. The Big O was a man among-st boys, he was 20 pounds heavier and taller than any other guard at the time.

I can't argue with you, especially the point that people didn't worry about triple-doubles back then. And Big Os career rebounding numbers clearly show that he was something else on the boards. Just making the point broadly that stat-padding isn't a recent occurrence.
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Re: Why LeBron James is the 2017 MVP no matter what

Postby nazrmohamed » March 22, 2017, 9:48 pm

shakespeare wrote:Valid argument, as usual. To basketball purists like ourselves, the thought of what the team would be without said player always counts for something. To the day, I believe James Harden [and even Goran Dragic] didn't receive the respect he deserved for carrying the Rockets to the '13 playoffs with no fellow All-Star nor former All-Star player on the roster https://www.google.com/amp/s/syndicatio ... p.amp.html

Harden didn't win it, though.

Westbrook deserves to win MVP. So does James Harden. Both players have carried their teams this season.

As for "Carmelo Anthony side level talent," although not true, I believe that goes both ways, meaning Carmelo's teammates hadn't played with franchise players the caliber of Westbrook and Harden, either.


I think the latter is indeed the case. I love Melo and nobody gonna take that away no matter what happens or where he goes. But Im not crazy enough to think there aren't players better than him. He's an old man. But in his prime its not like he didn't do the same exact thing. I don't think people wanna realize that he hasn't missed the playoffs anywhere but New York under the direction of Phil Jackson. All criticism of Melo prior to Phil was in regards to how a franchise player couldn't advance once there. Even still, one of the two times he did was in a Knick uniform, and Phil blew that team up to build a team we now wanna blow up.

But yeah, Harden and Westbrook are just far more superior than him, and thier primes are gonna go down as better than Melos too. Ain't really no shame in that.
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