The Soapbox is a feature where NLSC community members can let their voices be heard on a range of topics related to basketball and basketball video games, through feature articles here on the main site. Today’s guest contributor is HoopsGaming23.
With all of the NBA teams well past the 70-game mark and the Playoffs a couple of weeks away, the time and the world-wide hype couldn’t be more appropriate for a discussion about who deserves the NBA Most Valuable Player award. Although according to the NBA MVP ladder, there are officially ten active candidates for the highest single player accolade, the real battle is fought between two major forces in today’s NBA world: Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
A number of arguments can be made in favor for each player, but the truth is, Durant has simply played unreal games of basketball this season. In the absence of Westbrook, he has been able to raise his level of play and contribute to his team’s success with unbelievable stats. Through the month of January, Durant averaged a historic 36.9 points per game, a feat matched by only four other players in NBA history. To top that, he set a new career high in points, whilst shooting 55% from the field during the whole calendar month. Enough said.
Some people might pull out arguments about Durant’s scoring efficiency by stating that James’s shooting 57% for the whole season. Yes, that’s true. But, should we forget the fact that Kevin Durant played without Westbrook, with a supporting cast in which Serge Ibaka is considered the best player? Absolutely not. Kevin Durant not only raised his level of play, he raised the level of play of the whole Thunder team.
On the other hand, James failed to carry the Heat on his back, even with a far better supporting cast than Durant’s. I’d take an injury-plagued Wade (who is shooting a career best 55% from the field) every day of the week over an inexperienced Jeremy Lamb. Although LeBron had a career night, scoring 61 points on 33 shot attempts, his performance dipped dramatically in the following games. His points went down, his turnovers went up, and he struggled overall. That was the stretch that cost him the MVP award.
To be the MVP of the most popular basketball league in the world, you have to meet three criteria: leadership, ability to perform under pressure, and consistency. LeBron failed to fulfill the third and at the end of the day, that is going to cost him his MVP reign.
You can check out more content from HoopsGaming23, including some great NBA 2K mixes, here on his YouTube channel. If you’d like to contribute an article for The Soapbox, please see this thread for more details.