Will LeBron James Ever Not Be the NBA MVP Favorite?

Sam RichmondCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2013

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 08:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at American Airlines Arena on February 8, 2013 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Miami Heat superstar LeBron James is playing at a level few in NBA history have ever ascended to.

As each game goes by and James puts together fantastic performance after fantastic performance, he seems destined to win his fourth MVP in just five seasons.

LeBron has been so dominant lately that it's fair to wonder just how long it will be until he's not the MVP favorite. That's really where we're at right now. Who can possibly play better than LeBron is playing these days?

LeBron has such a stranglehold on this year's MVP race even though there are a few other players who are putting together excellent campaigns. 

Take Kevin Durant, for example.

Durant is the NBA's second-leading scorer, averaging 28.5 points on 51.2 percent shooting from the field, 42.4 percent from beyond the arc and 91 percent from the charity stripe. Durant's on pace to become the sixth member of the NBA's 50-40-90 club. He's also playing the best defense of his career and is averaging 7.8 rebounds along with 4.6 assists.

And while many NBA fans and voters might want to see Durant win—he's one of the most-liked players in the league—James should win the award in a landslide. 

LeBron has become elite in every facet of the game. His jump shot used to be one of his few weaknesses. Now, LeBron is one of the NBA's top shooters. 

Take a look at his mind-blowingly efficient shot chart from this season.

He's scoring 27.1 points on an absurd 56.4 percent shooting from the field and 41.3 percent from the three-point line. LeBron is obviously the Heat's top scorer, like Durant is with the Thunder, but James is also his team's top passer (7.3 assists) and rebounder (8.1 rebounds).

Talk about valuable.

What's even scarier is that LeBron is capable of playing to even higher numbers. He finished the month of February scoring 29.7 points on an utterly ridiculous 64.1 percent shooting from the field. Some like to say that Durant is the best offensive player in the league, but even he's never done that. To be fair to KD, though, no one has shot as well as LeBron did in February since 1983.

To put how well LeBron has played this season in perspective, he currently has a 31.76 PER, which would be the second-greatest single-season mark in NBA history. Better than Michael Jordan. Only Wilt Chamberlain from 1962-63 would top LeBron on the PER leaderboard if he keeps this up. 

James is also one of the league's best defenders, something Durant is still not. There are really no holes on LBJ's 2012-13 MVP candidacy, which is what makes the future MVP awards so interesting. He's playing flawless basketball right now. 

What's really frightening, though, is at age 28, LeBron is just now entering his prime. While he might not get much better than this, he's at an age where he likely won't suffer a decline in play for quite some time.

So, with the belief that James will continue to play at this level for the foreseeable future, it's difficult to envision a season anytime soon where he isn't the heavy favorite.

He's established himself as the NBA's best player. But more than that, he's made it so there's a significant gap between him and the No. 2 player. That's not changing anytime soon.

Still, even as invincible and nonhuman as LeBron seems at times, his age will eventually catch up to him—as it does all players. One day, LeBron's physical tools won't be the supreme advantage over the rest of the NBA that they are today, and he won't be able to produce at this level.

But that really is the only thing that will make LeBron not be the MVP favorite. Even with all the young, talented superstars in the NBA right now (like a Durant, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving), they aren't capable of dethroning The King. LeBron won't be a favorite when he's incapable of producing at his standard level, not because someone can exceed what James is doing right now.

For the next couple of seasons, the MVP race might be a bit boring. That's not what voters want, but LeBron is forcing that upon them. He's put it all together at this stage of his career and has reached a place where he might just simply be too good. 

To those NBA players wanting to hoist the Maurice Podoloff Trophy: Be patient. That award is No. 6's to lose until Father Time catches up to him. 


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