Until LeBron James proves otherwise, he is the best player in the world come playoff time. There is no question about that. He won last season's Finals MVP, adding another award to his legacy. Earlier in the season, LeBron James was one of the favorites for the regular season MVP. The Los Angeles Lakers were one of the top teams in the league and LeBron James was having a great statistical season.
With Anthony Davis sidelined with injury though, the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled. Anthony Davis was key to the Los Angeles Lakers on the defensive end and complemented LeBron James on the offensive end perfectly. The loss of Anthony Davis has affected LeBron James' MVP chances, and James needs Davis back as soon as he's healthy. LeBron James will not win the MVP award without Anthony Davis, and here is why.
LeBron James Isn't The Overwhelming Favorite
There are two main things that voters consider when voting for the MVP award: individual performance over the course of the season, and team standing. Oftentimes, it is the best player on the best regular-season team that wins the MVP award. LeBron James has had a solid individual performance over the course of the season. He is putting up 25.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 7.8 APG on the season, continuing his elite run of dominance on the league. It's not that he is putting up bad numbers, it is just that there are other players in the league who are stuffing the stat sheet all across the board.
The Basketball-Reference MVP Award Tracker is a tool that ranks the likelihood of current MVP candidates winning the award based on past voting results. LeBron James is a top 5 MVP candidate, but there are other players above him: Nikola Jokic, James Harden, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. All of these players have made their case, and are putting up statistics that rival LeBron James' performances.
Nikola Jokic is showing his superstar status this season and is averaging 27.3 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 8.6 APG. James Harden has become the league leader in assists after his move to the Brooklyn Nets and is putting up 25.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 11.0 APG. Giannis Antetokounmpo is having a great individual season with 29.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 5.8 APG. Joel Embiid is leading the top team in the Eastern Conference with 29.8 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 3.3 APG. These players have outperformed LeBron James statistically, and 3 of them are also leading their own playoff teams as the undisputed best player. The tracker gives LeBron James only a 3.9% chance to win the MVP award, which is extremely low knowing what we know about LeBron James. Something needs to change in order for LeBron James' chances to go up.
Anthony Davis Could Change Things
Anthony Davis coming back from injury means that the Los Angeles Lakers will have their second superstar back, which would open up the floor for LeBron James. One has to remember that the first and only other season that LeBron James and Anthony Davis played together resulted in a championship. Together, they make up the best duo in the NBA. It has only been a short while since we've seen something like this:
Having Anthony Davis would propel the Los Angeles Lakers to better performances, ultimately helping LeBron James' MVP case. The Los Angeles Lakers don't really have to focus on the regular season as much, ultimately looking towards the postseason. But another MVP award could help LeBron James' legacy, and be another addition to the history books. LeBron James would be the oldest MVP ever if he wins it this season, and that is definitely something that would be remembered.
If LeBron James has any shot at winning the MVP award, it will be alongside Anthony Davis. LeBron James was a top-two MVP choice last year, but the voters ended up giving it to Giannis Antetokounmpo. This season, LeBron James has a chance to win the MVP award, which he hasn't won since 2013. But he cannot do it without the help of Anthony Davis, his elite co-star.