With the NBA reaching the home stretch of the regular season, the MVP race is beginning to heat up with LeBron leading the candidacy again. It really shouldn't even be close.
Let's start by looking at the last three seasons for LeBron. In the last three years for the Cavaliers, he missed a total of 11 games. Their record without LeBron in those 11 games was 0-11. His estimated wins added in his last season in Cleveland was a league-leading 30.5. Second on the list from last year was Dwayne Wade at 24.4.
Now, let's look at estimated wins added for this season. LeBron again leads the league at 18, Dwight Howard in second with 17.4, Kobe Bryant adds 14.2 wins to the Lakers, and Derrick Rose—who many have as the leading MVP candidate right now—adds 13 wins.
Obviously, the MVP voters aren't going to base their vote on this estimated wins added (EWA) statistic, but it's something that needs to be taken into consideration.
Another thing that should be taken into consideration is just how bad the Cleveland Cavaliers are this season.
Cleveland is 11-49 this season and 16 games out of the eighth seed in the playoffs. Last year, they were playing against the eighth seed in the first round of the playoffs.
Oh, and they set a record for most consecutive losses in NBA history this season.
The biggest change from last season to this season is, obviously, LeBron James. Without LeBron, Cleveland stinks.
Look at Miami with LeBron—second place in the East right now. Have they struggled against other elite teams and feasted on losing teams? Yes, but you have to play the teams on your schedule.
It shouldn't have been easy for LeBron, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to come together and dominate right away. When you're taking three players who are used to dominating every game and you take away their touches, it's going to be difficult to adjust—even more so when you're playing against teams that have played hundreds of games together already.
LeBron shouldn't be punished in the eyes of the MVP voters for "The Decision" or for struggling against elite teams. Instead, he should be awarded the MVP for the third straight year, because he has proven just how valuable he is.