LeBron James was favored by GMs across the league to be named the 2016-17 NBA MVP. As he gets set to enter his 14th season, this will be one of his last chances to capture the award.
James’ body has a ton of miles on it between the regular season, playoffs, and multiple Olympic trips. Thusly, the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to rest James more often than they have in the past so he won’t be worn down by the playoffs. The King will most likely surpass 40,000 career regular season minutes this year even with a reduced workload, but he doesn’t believe that resting will limit his production.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin said that James answered with a “no” when asked if people should write him off as an MVP candidate. “Because Steph [Curry] played 31 minutes a game and he won the MVP.”
It was 34 per game, but who’s counting?
The thesis doesn’t change: Curry put up monstrous numbers despite being well rested. His effort was no doubt a contributor to that, but being able to average 30.1 points in such short time is quite impressive.
For James, chasing championships is more important than MVPs, and he looked to have been on cruise control for the last two regular seasons. He turned it up multiple notches in the postseason out of necessity, but he’s the only person stopping him from doing that for an entire season.
He’d be hard-pressed to sustain those numbers and not be worn down by the start of the postseason. Still, even if he was coasting a bit, he still managed to tally 25.3 points, 7.4 boards, and nearly seven assists in 35.6 minutes a night last year.
Not one season has James gone without finishing in the top-ten for MVP, and that includes finishing in the top-three over the last eight.
The road to the MVP will travel through Houston and Oklahoma City since both James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be putting up strikingly gaudy numbers this season. If LBJ were to capture his fifth award, he’d join Michael Jordan (5), Bill Russell (5), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6) as the only players to win more than four.
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