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We likely won’t hear his name announced when they hand out the MVP award next month, but everyone knows LeBron James is the most valuable player in the NBA, right?
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Steve Aschburner: Wrong. LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. He is a guy who’s thumbing his nose at our expectations for a massive-mileage player in his 15th season. He’s also the one player capable of carrying his team through an entire postseason with minimal help. But he’s not the MVP of 2017-18 in my opinion because A) it’s a regular season award, playoffs not included; B) James’ squad finished with fewer victories than five other teams, and C) James Harden’s continued transformation as a team guy adapting to Chris Paul’s arrival while leading the NBA in scoring made him the top candidate. A lot of this comes down to the fuzzy, ever-morphing definition of “valuable” -- which I think gives the award and all the debates it inspires a special status.
Shaun Powell: From an NBA visibility standpoint both domestically and abroad, from a league bottom-line standpoint from ticket sales, merchandising and ratings, from a franchise valuation standpoint especially with the Cavaliers and from a common-sense standpoint, yes, LeBron James is the most valuable player in the NBA no matter who wins MVP.
John Schuhmann: I've consulted twitter (both standard and burner accounts) and I can reveal that no, not everyone knows that LeBron James is the most valuable player in the NBA (or they know it and just don't want to admit it). This is the worst team that James has taken to The Finals, because that 2007 team had a top-five defense and this one ranked 29th on that end of the floor (though James is partly responsible for that). There's nobody else who could do what he's done -- both in regard to individual performance and team success -- in these playoffs. Maybe things are different if the Celtics make a couple of open 3s in Game 7, but there are probably 10 Eastern Conference teams that James could have taken to The Finals if he was on those rosters. That's how valuable he is.
Sekou Smith: Right. Yes. Absolutely. Whatever confirmation is needed, feel free to use it. LeBron is the most valuable player in the league this and just about every season for the past 10 years. It doesn't mean he always has the most outstanding season. But show me another player who has led his team to eight straight trips to The Finals and then we can talk about who is the real MVP. James Harden is probably going to sweep the awards, both the Kia official honor and the trophy handed out by the players association tomorrow. And it's hard to argue against him after the Houston Rockets' 65-win regular season and the way Harden performed. But let's be real about this: LeBron's the single greatest force in the league right now and until further notice. He doesn't need a trophy to prove it either.