At 35-years-old, LeBron James is somehow still dominating the NBA. Between his performance and the competition that he faces in the West, many believe it should be him who wins the MVP this season.
But, without the Warriors, is the West really that much more dominant? Are we giving to much credit to LeBron and others for being in the "harder" conference?
According to Max Kellerman on ESPN's First Take, that's exactly the case.
"LeBron, you're number one in the Western Conference in the regular season -- in a conference that the Warriors don't play in anymore, really. KD and Klay are both off the Warriors this year and Steph missed time. If the unbeatable Warriors, the one LeBron was lucky to get a single win against the last time he played them in the Finals, were still at full strength, the Lakers clearly wouldn't be number one in the West."
While the West may still be harder than the East, it doesn't pose the same challenge it did years ago. Without the Warriors at full strength, the Spurs younger and healthier, and the Thunder without Russ, it seems the path through the Western Conference is clearer now than it has been in a long time.
Still, nobody said it will be easy. If LeBron James is to win his fourth title, he and his team will likely have to beat the Grizzlies, Jazz, and Clippers.
We will see soon enough how he fares in that endeavor.