Does LeBron James Have NBA's Most Valuable Supporting Cast?
LeBron James is the 2012-13 NBA MVP.
The debate has been over for at least a month now.
But where does James' Miami Heat supporting cast rank among the other 29 teams?
On Monday night, they certainly impressed.
With James limited (in the way only a three-time MVP can be limited) by a sore knee, his teammates responded with a spirited effort that helped Miami set a new franchise-best with its 15th consecutive win.
James had 20 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and an uncharacteristic seven turnovers in 35 minutes of hobbled activity. Despite James' relative struggles, the Heat routed the Minnesota Timberwolves 97-81 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
Dwyane Wade led the charge with game-highs of 32 points and 10 assists to go along with seven rebounds. Chris Bosh chipped in with 11 points and nine rebounds, and Ray Allen added 13 points in 26 minutes off the bench.
With as strong as James has played this season (perhaps as good of a season the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan left the floor), there's been a lingering temptation to undersell the strength of his running mates.
It's a temptation holding dire consequences for those foolish enough to voice it as an opinion.
The limitations of the current CBA haven't quite squeezed out the possibility of building superpowers like the one manufactured by Pat Riley over the 2010 offseason. But they haven't left a lot of room to divvy up among the remaining players.
Investing more than $30 million over the next three seasons in Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller only furthered the difficulties facing Riley.
But credit the executive for discovering the budget deals that have supported his talented trio.
He locked up oft-overlooked point guard Mario Chalmers on a bargain three-year, $12 million contract and battle-tested veteran Shane Battier on a three-year, $9 million deal before the 2011-12 season. He plucked veteran sharpshooter Ray Allen from the Boston Celtics with a two-year, $6-plus million deal ($3.2 million player option for next season). He landed Rashard Lewis for two seasons for the veteran's minimum, grabbed Chris Anderson of the waiver wire and nabbed Norris Cole with the 28th pick of the 2011 NBA draft.
While this might not have led to a lot of superstar talent surrounding Miami's three-headed monster, it simply stocked the cupboards for coach Erik Spoelstra. The coach can find the hot hand on a nightly basis and adjust his rotation accordingly.
It's not a daunting task considering how much he's getting out of James, Wade and Bosh (65.5 points, 20.2 rebounds and 13.7 assists per game entering Tuesday night).
If Wade and Bosh aren't enough to make James' supporting cast the best in the NBA, then guys like Allen, Battier, Chalmers and Co. do the rest.
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