The votes are in and Lebron James has won his 3rd MVP award. The Chasing 23 writing team sees it no differently, making Lebron the unanimous choice for the 2011-2012 season.
The NBA Realist: Lebron James
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the MVP is all about criteria, and for me, the MVP deserves to be awarded to the best player in the NBA. For the past 4 years this has been Lebron James.
2012 not only saw Lebron enhance his overall game, but in my opinion, peak to a statistical level that only 3 other players have been able to reach:
1.) Michael Jordan (1988, 1989, 1990,1991)
2.) Wilt Chamberlain (1962,1963)
3.) Kareem Abdul Jabbar (1971,1972)
Lebron averaged 27.1 ppg on 53% FG shooting during a season in which the league average for FG% was 45% – an astounding 8 point differential. He also shot 60.5% True Shooting, while averaging 8 rebounds and 6 assists and evolving into not only the NBA’s most versatile defender, but arguably it’s best, covering all 5 positions throughout the course of the game while mastering the delicate balance between on-ball defense, and help defense. Moreover, he served as the definitive Alpha Dog on a team that finished with the 3rd best record despite missing it’s second best player for over 40% of the season.
The 2 supposed biggest knocks on his season?
1.) Failing to take the final shot in an All-Star game.
2.) Passing to Udonis Haslem in the last seconds of a regular season game against the Utah Jazz– a game that saw Lebron hitting 8/9 shots in the 4Q.
Are you kidding?
No other player in the history of the NBA (with the possible exception of Wilt Chamberlain) has endured more scrutiny, double standards, or hypocrisy, than Lebron James. Fortunately or unfortunately, all of his regular season accomplishments will be perceived for naught should the Heat fail to win the championship.
Pressure is on.
Brown Mamba: Lebron James
So The King has taken back the crown that rightfully belongs to him (even though it was taken away unfairly last year). The media, in an attempt to stir up some late season drama around the MVP race, implied there was actually a close competition between Lebron and Kevin Durant, but in reality, it wasn’t even close. It’s was actually a bit laughable to even think about — the only category that one could justify that Durant is better is in scoring, and even there, Lebron is far more efficient. When it comes to the regular season, Lebron has been head and shoulders above the rest of the league for several years now, and his recent growth as an elite defensive force has only served to distance himself even more from the competition. Only Lebron could relegate Dwyane Wade, arguably a top 15 all-time talent, into a position where he is the unquestioned no. 2 on a team.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Durant
Sean Cribben: Lebron James
This season only reconfirmed what had become patently obvious over the last two or three seasons: that LeBron James is the most befuddling superstar in NBA history. When fully invested, his play is so dominant, so transcendent, that there’s nary a soul that can dream of matching him; observe his clutch performances in his first career playoff series in 2006, his Game 5 evisceration of the Pistons in the 2007 Conference Finals, his duel with Paul Pierce in Game 7 of the 2008 Eastern Semis. But when detached (the entirety of the 2007 regular season, the 2010 Celtics series, the 2011 Finals, etc.), his passivity and insouciance are of such a debilitating effect that his team’s fortunes typically take a nosedive into the abyss.
His 2012 campaign was thus a perfect encapsulation of his career narrative thus far. From the “Greatest Season Ever!” talk which greeted his early-season efforts, to the “What the hell is wrong with LeBron?” conversations that filled the airwaves post All-Star break, to the “LeBron is Back!” chatter inspired by the Heat’s latest revival, the entire spectrum of the LeBron James Experience was on prominent display throughout the course of the season.
But however low the troughs, his peaks were of such undeniable brilliance that his inconsistency can be forgiven. Indeed, shooting 53% from the field (a career-high) while leading his team in all the relevant statistical categories and developing some hitherto underdeveloped facets of his game (most notably on the low-block), coupled with a relatively weak field (Kevin Durant excepted, of course) and a late-season surge.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Durant
Daniel Douglas: Lebron James
It speaks to how bored I’ve become with LeBron James and his robotically brilliant yet somewhat hollow seasons (his box score always seems to exceed his impact) that I found myself saying “Yeah, he put up 28/8/6 but so what?” If Kevin Durant had not played like complete dogshit at varying points toward the end of the season (case in point: a late regular season game against the Lakers), I would have talked myself into picking Durant as the Most Valuable Player. I’m not sure what type of analytical acrobatics I would have used to justify him – he’s a better scorer than James, no more, and not by much – seeing as how James had a better all-around season than Durant or any other MVP candidate has, arguably, had in their entire career. When you look at it objectively (and doubtless this will cause bitter fighting in the comment section) LeBron has been the best player of the last ten years. I know. He hasn’t won a championship, which means he’s not as good as someone who has, but if he played with an elite big man, like Kobe Bryant always, always has, I suspect LeBron would have the same number of titles (if not more). I hate myself for trying to solidify my argument with a hypothetical Back to the Future fantasy so let me just say this:
When a player is being criticized for having an off month – as LeBron was in March – yet is still putting up 24.8 PPG 8.5 RPG and 6.1 APG – when this statline is indicative that the player has tapered off – I don’t see how you can’t give him the MVP trophy (again).
Honorable Mention: Kevin Durant
Bruce Blitz: Lebron James
The MVP award certainly is the highest honor an NBA player can receive for his regular season level of play. The value of this award on a player’s legacy is so high that I believe the responsibility of the voters, or people who discuss the award, is very high. I would like to qualify my choice by stating that I do subscribe to the league pass, and I’ve watched enough games this season to give any basketball fan a headache. I’m basing my choice on what I’ve seen, and certainly can back it up with metrics and facts. I think when certain people look at metrics they forget the level of play that it takes to put up the metrics that LeBron James produces. It takes a very special player to produce in so many facets to the game of team basketball the way LeBron James does. LeBron James is an elite defender, passer, scorer, rebounder, and athlete. No matter who a player has around him, it certainly can only decrease his individual value if his touches are diminished. LeBron James creates a large margin for error when it pertains to his teammates. With LeBron James on the court, he makes life easy on everyone around him.
You can count on LeBron James to drop right near 30 points every night, with a minimal amount of shot attempts which frees up more possessions for his teammates. LeBron’s efficiency as an offensive player has jumped this year due to taking less 3 point shots, an improved post game, and better fundamentals on his jumper. LeBron James opens up the floor for his teammates with his ability to suck in defensive attention, and his court vision to hit the open man. LeBron James ends defensive possessions with rebounds, but more importantly he is the centerpiece of a top 5 NBA defense in the Miami Heat. Without LeBron James, I don’t see that team coming even close to being a top 5 defense. LeBron’s on ball, and off ball defense is phenomenal. We also saw LeBron James defend every position, 1-5, on many different nights. Now I’m not talking about defending the 3 in one game, and defending the 5 in another game… I am referencing the games where he actually defended every single position during the course of a single game. The negatives on LeBron are obviously his game finishing shot attempts, and his free throw shooting. LeBron certainly has negatives, just like every other player in the NBA. I guess you could classify these areas as “still need improvement”. That does bring his value down a bit, but with that being said all of the other players in the NBA have more weaknesses, or areas that “still need improvement.” There is no question that LeBron James should be the 2012 NBA MVP. I won’t even bother going into the metrics.
E-Dog: Lebron James
It’s tempting to pick Durant, who at just 23 will win multiple MVP awards before it’s all said and done. But while Durant has had another excellent season, much of Oklahoma City’s success this season has to do with Russell Westbrook’s assertiveness and James Harden’s emergence, and as good as Durant is, I don’t think he can take credit for those developments. As for Paul, he immediately took leadership of the Clippers and transformed them from a laughingstock to a contender. But as considerable as his impact has been, he hasn’t been quite as much of an all-court force as LeBron.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Durant, Chris Paul
- 2012 NBA Most Improved Player: Chasing 23 Writers’ Picks
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- 2011 NBA Most Improved Player Of The Year: Chasing 23 Writers’ Picks