Michael Jordan set a standard that no other NBA player will ever reach. There are many that believe that “voter fatigue” set in after Jordan had won three Most Valuable Player Awards over the course of five years and that he should have won the award over Charles Barkley in 1993 and over Karl Malone in 1997.
Today, one could easily make the same argument with regard to LeBron James. Even without numbers of supporting facts, it is indisputable that James is the “most valuable” of all NBA players. The man is a walking NBA Finals appearance, having brought his team to the promise land five consecutive years and having six total appearances. Of course, James is just 2-4 in those six Finals appearances, but nobody could reasonably blame him for his respective team’s plight.
The question with LeBron is not whether he is the league’s most valuable player (he is), it is whether the voters will vote for him, and I believe that this coming season, they will. The combination of Stephen Curry’s underwhelming performance in the 2015 NBA Finals and the fact that many believed that James should have won the award despite the Cavaliers losing the series, to me, is something that will still be fresh on everyone’s minds. Personally, I believe that sobconsciously, the voters think about things that have occurred in the immediate past and that it impacts their votes.
Case in point: there are many who believe that Kobe Bryant winning the award in 2008 was more a lifetime achievement award than it was due to him being more deserving than Chris Paul. I only bring that up to say that there are some who believe that MVP voting isn’t necessarily always about what happens on the court. Sometimes, it is about principle, and Andre Iguodala’s winning of the 2015 NBA Finals MVP Award may be a testament to that fact.
Regardless, I think that James eventually walks away with the MVP Award because, after coming up short again, I think that the Cavaliers are going to approach this coming season with a sense of urgency that seemed to be missing last season. The goal for them, in all likelihood, will be to win home court advantage throughout the playoffs. In essence, the Cavs will be competing against the Western Conference teams in terms of win-loss record, and I think it is a battle they are inclined to win. The Western Conference is becoming a bit less top heavy, and since win-loss records are a zero-sum game, it is possible that as many as 11 teams could win 48 games out West, especially considering the Anthony Davis-led New Orleans Pelicans are making strides and the return of Kevin Durant bodes positively for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
A wise man once told me that predictions are like armpits. Everyone has them, and they all stink. But at this point, one prediction that doesn’t stink is taking LeBron James as your pick to walk away with the 2015-16 NBA Most Valuable Player Award. By the end of next season, the voter fatigue will have worn off and James and his Cavaliers will have crushed their foes in the Eastern Conference. That is, of course, assuming their health. But for now, I will give them the benefit of the doubt.
– Moke Hamilton