Miami Heat star forward LeBron James has three MVP trophies already, and he'll have a fourth by the end of this season. The former No. 1 pick has taken a new team-first approach this year, and it's helped the Heat maintain their lead in the Eastern Conference.
This season, James is averaging 27.3 points (third in the NBA), 8.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game, not to mention 1.7 steals. But those don't even come close to being the most amazing statistics he has posted.
The nine-time All-Star has shot an absolutely eye-popping 56.5 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range, both career bests. Keep in mind that his field-goal percentage ranks sixth in the league, and the next small forward after him is fellow star Kevin Durant, ranked 23rd with a mark of 52 percent.
Now, consider this. The Heat may be the top team in the Eastern Conference, not to mention the defending champions, but their interior defense is deplorable. They are the worst rebounding team in the league, primarily because head coach Erik Spoelstra insists on starting Chris Bosh at center in spite of the fact that Bosh is more of a scoring power forward than a true defensive 5.
On the season, Bosh has posted 7.4 boards per game, nearly one less than his teammate James. Given how James' rebounding is up to 8.2 from 7.9 last season, and you see why he is deserving of a fourth MVP trophy this year.
The fact of the matter is that James realizes how important he is to his team's success, and he has approached this season with two goals: win another championship and become a better player.
We have seen much of the latter all season long in that rather than be the scorer who only rebounds and passes as needed, James actually seems to WANT to do those things more. He recognizes how much the Heat rely on him to be a complete player, so he has stopped at nothing to become not only that, but the most complete of all.
His completeness can be seen in his offense. Keep in mind that in last year's MVP season, James only attempted a total of 497 shots from the restricted area, and he sank 70 percent of them.
This season, at the All-Star Break, he has already attempted 423 shots from the same spot and has made 73.3 percent of them. By showing a new commitment to high-percentage shots and only utilizing his jumper every so often, not to mention further developing his three-point game, James has not only become the league's most complete player, but he has shown just how unbelievably valuable he is to his team.
Even if the Heat don't win a championship this year, the cards are on the table. Nothing against the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony or the Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant, both of whom are incredibly talented in their own right, but their skill sets don't hold a candle to that of James. Durant may be arguably a better scorer, but he is not going to go after rebounds or create plays on the same level.
As a result, whether he is a champion at the end of the season or not, James is definitely in line to win his fourth MVP. His commitment to making both himself and his team better in spite of a defending champion status is admirable, and he deserves his due credit.
He does not need the trophy by any means, but receiving it would definitely put an exclamation point on what has already been a no-doubt Hall of Fame career.
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