Basketball

Wondering why LeBron isn’t an MVP finalist? Game 2 vs. Celtics is your answer

Written by Brad Botkin

Wondering why LeBron isn’t an MVP finalist? Game 2 vs. Celtics is your answer

On Friday night it was announced that LeBron James was not selected as a finalist for MVP award , falling short of Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard. Later on Friday, the Cleveland Cavaliers finished one of the most laughably lopsided victories in NBA playoff history, completely embarrassing the Boston Celtics 130-86 in a game that was, somehow, an even bigger blowout that that score suggests. During this blowout, TNT broadcasters Reggie Miller and Chris Webber were more or less mocking the voters who snubbed LeBron.

“[He’s] not one of the top three players in the league?” Miller chuckled as LeBron did something else effortlessly spectacular on a night when he finished with 30 points on 12-of-18 from the field, seven assists, four rebounds, four steals and three blocks, all adding up to a cool +46 rating.

There are a lot of people out there right now looking at these truly silly numbers and echoing Miller’s sentiment. LeBron’s teammates certainly think it’s ridiculous . How can the best player in the world not even be an MVP finalist? This, of course, isn’t the point. Obviously, LeBron is the best player in the world. Hell, his case as the best player ever is getting stronger by the day. But that still doesn’t make him this year’s MVP, or even a top-3 candidate. The voters got it right. LeBron shouldn’t be a finalist. Westbrook, Harden and Kawhi were all better than he was this year. And what LeBron and the Cavs did to Boston in Game 2 proves it.

Think about it: That same Boston team that was just made to look like an over-40 city league squad, and a pretty pedestrian one at that, finished with a better record than the Cavs this year. Do you really need any more evidence that LeBron wasn’t the MVP? Yes, I know his numbers were, once again, stupid — over 26 points, eight assists and eight boards a night. Those are crazy numbers. Almost as crazy as, you know, that guy down in OKC averaging a triple-double. Almost as crazy as this Cavs team that is yet to lose a single playoff game, this team with the best player in the world, winning … wait for it … all of 51 games this year. 

Fifty-one.

The same number as the Clippers.

And ain’t nobody in here talking about Chris Paul.

If the definition of a player’s value is what would happen to a team if he were replaced with someone else, then let me be unequivocal: you could’ve replaced LeBron with at least a handful of players this year, certainly those three guys up for the award for which LeBron was supposedly snubbed, and the Cavs would have won at least 51 games, probably more. That really is a paltry number for a team that just showed everyone how much better they are than the next-best team in the East. The gap between Cleveland and Boston is a joke. And yet LeBron let those same Celtics — and yes, he absolutely let them — win more games than the Cavs. I can’t say that enough. 

The fact of the matter is if Cleveland had to play a Western Conference schedule this year, facing the likes of the Warriors and Spurs and Rockets three times rather than two, they’re probably not even a 50-win team. Think about that. Quite possibly the best team in the world, with certainly the best player in the world, is barely a 50-win team. They were under .500 on the road. Barely over .500 against the West. And you want to vote that team’s best player as the MVP of the league? Over Westbrook, who averaged a triple-double and led his supremely limited team to exactly four fewer wins than LeBron’s superteam? Over Harden, who actually accounted for more points, assists and rebounds than Westbrook and led his team to exactly four MORE wins than the Cavs? Over Leonard, the best player on a 61-win team?

Get out of here.

This is a regular-season award, and the voters got this absolutely right. 

About the author

Brad Botkin