Winning the MVP of the All-Star Game is as much about motivation as it is talent and touches. After all, it is the All-Star Game. Every player is pretty good. Obviously, a player has to get the requisite minutes and touches to perform.
But more than that, players have to be motivated enough to want to make a statement in the showcase.
LeBron James, Odds 7-2
Like most great athletes, LeBron James has found an inner motivation to work toward even more success. He's seemingly been playing with a chip on his shoulder as if he still has something to prove.
On Wednesday night in Oakland, James drained a fadeaway three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left to lift the Heat over the Golden State Warriors.
He's raising his game—if that's even possible.
James has said he should be Defensive Player of the Year and that his face will ultimately be on a fictional NBA Mount Rushmore.
The last two proclamations are certainly true. Anyone who understands the game knows that.
The Mount Rushmore statement came out as a product of a specific question asked by former NBA player and current NBA.com analyst Steve Smith. LeBron haters will try to make it something that it's not.
It wasn't boastful and certainly not implausible. As a matter of fact, if you asked any of the best players in history the same question, you'd probably get a similar answer.
Still, it seems as if James is trying to make sure his competitive spirit continues to burn. With a showcase like the All-Star Game coming up, it seems like the perfect opportunity for LeBron to "prove" to the world he's the top dog.
Because of his ability to dominate the game scoring, defending—if they even do such a thing in the All-Star Game—and passing, he has a good shot at winning his third ASG MVP.
Damian Lillard, Odds 35-1
Yes, this is a bit of a long shot, but the motivation is there. Lillard is obviously trying to make a mark on All-Star weekend. He's set to become the first man to ever compete in every event.
While he's more apt to stand out in the Rising Stars Challenge or the Skills Challenge, don't sleep on his ability to turn heads in the weekend's main event. Taylor Barfield of Yahoo! Sports has some valid concerns about Lillard's ASG MVP chances. He writes:
It's hard to shine in the All-Star game, especially if it's your first time. Lillard will get assimilated nicely into the flow, as he will also become accustomed to, and with, the style of the All-Star game. Don't expect too much out of him here because he's sure to be running low on gas come Sunday.
All those points are valid, which is probably why the Portland Trail Blazers star is such a long shot with the Vegas odds. Still, he is fearless, and his epic game-winners during the regular season prove he's not afraid of the big stage. If you're looking for a live dog in the MVP betting game, Lillard is a good choice.
LeBron is on a mission right now. His competitive juices are flowing. He hears all the Durant league-MVP talk. He sees that the Thunder have taken over as the team with the best record in the league.
LeBron will use All-Star weekend as a platform to remind NBA fans who the best in the world is.
Follow me, I'm addicted to hoops.
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