King James and the Heat rolled into Oklahoma City after All-Star break and LeBron seemingly dominated the frontrunner for the award Kevin Durant. James scored 33 points while Durant had 28. Miami defeated Oklahoma City 103-81.
James suffered a broken nose in the game and took one game off before returning with a vengeance. James exploded for a franchise and personal best 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats in Miami’s 124-107 home win. James shot 66% from the floor while shooting 8-for-10 from three and 9-for-12 from the free throw line.
James has been on a tear shooting the basketball. He’s fourth in the league in field goal percentage (58.3%), which is phenomenal considering he’s accompanied by seven-footers like DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, Dwight Howard, and Al Horford in the top 5.
LeBron James is single-handedly turning everyone’s attention away from Kevin Durant in the MVP race, but for my money Durant is still the leading candidate.
The most “valuable” player doesn’t necessarily mean the “best” player. James is without a doubt, the best player. Some argued that LeBron James was robbed in 2011 when Derrick Rose broke his consecutive MVP streak while leading the Bulls to the league’s best record. James took it personally and shut down Rose in the Eastern Conference Finals. Ask yourselves, where would the 2011 Chicago Bulls have been without Derrick Rose and where would the 2011 Miami Heat have been without King James?
Some argue that Steve Nash didn’t deserve to be league MVP in 2005 and 2006 and the award should have gone to Kobe Bryant who went on a scoring rampage in the post Shaquille O’Neal era. The reality is Nash was the engine that made the Suns go, while Kobe missed the playoffs in ’05 and barely made it the following season.
In no way am I comparing LeBron James and the 2014 Miami Heat to Kobe Bryant and the 2006 Lakers. I’m just saying it’s not the "best player award" it’s the "most valuable player award". The discussion raises the question, how does one determine value?
Where would OKC be without Durant? In the Lottery, that’s where they would be.
Durant has put the Thunder on his back for the entire season with his running mate Russell Westbrook on the sidelines for much of the season. Durant is leading the league in scoring (31.6 points per game) and has his team atop the Western Conference with a 45-15 record.
The Heat without LeBron have Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, Chris Anderson, Shane Battier, Rashard Lewis, Norris Cole, and Mario Chalmers to take up the slack. They are a seasoned team with championship experience. Miami also has Michael Beasley and Greg Oden to use in case of emergencies.
Even without LeBron James that team would make the playoffs in the East and would possibly make it to the NBA Finals.
Durant has a lot less to work with.
On top of it all, OKC is winning more games than Miami in a much tougher conference – thanks to Durant. The Thunder only get to beat up on teams like the Magic, Sixers, and Bucks twice. The Heat get that opportunity more often.
Is LeBron James valuable to the Heat and the NBA as a whole? Without a doubt he is, but so is Kevin Durant – this season he’s just a little more valuable than the rest.