LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers
Most Valuable Player

Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November and March ... Named Player of the Week five times and was the first player in NBA history to win it in three consecutive weeks ... Ranked third in the league in scoring with 31.4 points per game ... Scored 40 or more points 10 times and 30 or more 49 times ... Ranked second in the league in triple-doubles with six ... The youngest NBA All-Star Game MVP after posting 29 points and six rebounds in the Eastern Conference’s 122-120 win.

Our take:
Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West: They're the only players in NBA history to ever do what LeBron James has done this year -- average 30-plus points, seven-plus rebounds and six or more assists for a full season. Jordan and Robertson have each been named the league's MVP and, based on stats alone, you have to give consideration to James. But the Cavs 21-year-old superstar has more than numbers supporting his case. While many voters may look to his age and cast their votes for others -- the thinking being James has better years ahead -- LeBron has been one of, if not the, most valuable players to his respective team. At the outset of the season, the additions of Larry Hughes, Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall were supposed to lift the Cavs to the postseason. Hughes went down for 50 games with a broken finger. Marshall struggled from long range and everywhere else as his numbers were some of the lowest of his career. And Jones simply left his shot in Miami. Without James, the Cavs would be lottery-bound an eighth straight year instead of filling the Q for at least two more games. Now that's valuable.
-- Jeff Dengate

From the media:
LeBron James is averaging 32, 7 and 7 for the season, and upped his ppg by a half-dozen points over the last three weeks. He’s led his team to wins in 11 of their last 12 games, a run that clinched a playoff spot and homecourt in the first round, not to mention brought them within just three games of the second-best record in the East. He’s hit and assisted multiple game-winning and game-clinching shots in the closing seconds. And he’s done it with Flip Murray as his team’s second-best player.
-- SLAM Online

From an opponent:
He's so unselfish, and he does so much. They're going to play through him constantly. He gets everyone else going. Not many guys average 30 and they say, 'He's unselfish.' But that shows the type of respect that he has (earned), just from everyone on his team and in the league.
-- Richard Jefferson

A fan's take:
If the MVP award is given to the player most valuable to his team, the clear choice is LeBron James. His impact on the city of Cleveland, the NBA and it's global fanbase has been unmatched. At 21 years of age, he's led the Cavaliers to the East's No. 4 playoff seed. It's their first post-season appearance in eight years and accomplished with a new coach, new players and missing significant production from shooting guard Larry Hughes', due to injury, for over half the season. Without LeBron, the Cavaliers are probably a sub .500 team. He initiates their offense/fast breaks, finishes their offense/fast breaks, gets more rebounds than many power forwards and centers and has improved his defense, evidenced by increased steals and blocked shots. He logs over 42 mins/game (2nd only to A.I.) and leads the league in shooting percentage (66%) in the final two mins of a one possesion contest; when fatigue and pressure become additional factors to overcome. Every other candidate except possibly Kobe has more talent around him; however, LeBron is more versatile than Kobe, better at sharing the basketball and has led the Cavaliers to a better overall record than the Lakers; hence, he is more valuable to his team. After securing a playoff birth, LeBron's leadership has inspired his team, keeping them focused, winning and peaking. Before LeBron, the Cavaliers were perennial cellar dwellers. Three years later they are among the league's elite. He is special, dominant, and clutch. No matter who wins this award, LeBron James is the NBA's Most Valuable Player this 2005-06 season.
-- Victor - New York, N.Y.

The Numbers:
79 42.5 31.4 7.0 6.6 1.56 0.84 .480 .335 .738

Most Valuable Player - The Candidates:
Chauncey Billups - Detroit Pistons
Elton Brand - Los Angeles Clippers
Kobe Bryant - Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers
Steve Nash - Phoenix Suns
Dirk Nowitzki - Dallas Mavericks
Dwyane Wade - Miami Heat

Others worth consideration: Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, Shawn Marion

Most Improved Player
Rookie of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
Sixth Man Award
Coach of the Year

David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images