Carmelo Anthony has had an MVP-worthy season in 2012-13 for the New York Knicks. The only problem is that LeBron James has had an equally sensational season and is a contender for the award that should rightfully go to the Knicks superstar.
It’s a shame that James has taken three of the last four MVP awards, because so many other players have fell short when they really deserved the award. Last season, Kevin Durant was more than worthy of the title. This season it’s Anthony, who led the NBA in scoring with 28.7 points per game, who is trying to dethrone King James.
Anthony’s value to the Knicks surpasses James’ value to a Miami Heat team that still has Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the roster. Without James, the Heat would most likely be a top-five seed in the Eastern Conference—although there’s no way the team would have gone on a ridiculous 27-game winning streak without LBJ.
New York would be in serious trouble this season without Anthony, who was putting up 36.9 points per game in April. It would’ve been a legitimate struggle to make it into the playoffs for a Knicks team that has the oldest roster in NBA history.
James has the upper hand if the conversation debating the league’s most valuable player is strictly limited to numbers. Luckily for Anthony, it’s not.
The reigning MVP poured in 26.7 points per game this season, doing so with a wildly efficient 56.5 shooting percentage (Anthony: 44.9 percent). James dished out 7.3 assists per game along with eight rebounds, in comparison with Anthony’s 2.6 assists and 6.9 rebounds per night.
Keep in mind who James is playing with, though. His assists are inflated because he plays alongside two fellow All-Stars in Wade and Bosh, and he is surrounded by a bevy of three-point assassins like Ray Allen, Mike Miller and Shane Battier.
The way the Knicks’ roster is set up actually resembles Miami’s in a lot of ways.
J.R. Smith acts as Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire (when healthy) acts as Bosh and Jason Kidd, Steve Novak and Iman Shumpert are the three-point shooters. Anthony is dealing with a similar lineup as far as skill sets, but James is working with all of the better players.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that a player who sees the floor as well as James does would have more assists than a player like Anthony, whose game primarily revolves around scoring.
What Anthony has done for New York has been different than what James has brought to South Beach. The NBA’s scoring champion has turned the Knicks into a legitimate contender for the first time since the Patrick Ewing-John Starks era, while James joined what was already a quality team that had won the NBA title in 2006.
The term “most valuable” should refer to the player’s value to his team, and the award should be won by the player who makes the most impact on that team.
In this debate, it’s unquestionably Anthony. Yes, James has better assist/rebound averages, but that doesn’t carry as much weight as what Anthony has done; New York’s superstar has transformed a team that was given no shot in the Eastern Conference prior to the season and taken them all the way to the No. 2 seed.
Despite seemingly endless injuries, Anthony and the Knicks persevered and finished the season with a record of 54-28 (31-10 at home) and won the Atlantic Division for the first time since 1993-94. New York finished 12 games behind the Heat, who finished with an NBA-best record of 66-16, but went 1-3 against New York in head-to-head matchups.
Anthony and James are both future Hall of Fame players, and it’s a shame that they can’t share the MVP award this season.
In a perfect world, the award would be won by the player who came out on top after the Eastern Conference Finals if both the Knicks and the Heat make it that far. Unfortunately, that can’t be the case.
For now, let's all just take a moment to appreciate what both Anthony and James have accomplished this season because, although both were spectacular, we know that only one of them will win the MVP award.
James will go down as one of the greatest players of all time, but it’s Anthony who deserves the 2012-13 NBA MVP award.