Lakers News: Damian Lillard Says LeBron James Is MVP, Caruso Talks Title Hopes

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during a game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Staples Center on March 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2020 NBAE (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
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As NBA commissioner Adam Silver weighs his options on when and where the league will resume play, one of the main questions outside of who will win this season's championship is this: Who is this year's MVP?

Analysts and those who vote are likely still deciding between LeBron James and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo based on any number of criterion, but as far as Damian Lillard is concerned, there's already a clear cut winner.

"If you said either one, I feel like nobody would have a problem with it. But me personally, this season, I think it's LeBron," Lillard said on ESPN's Jalen & Jacoby.

"They're the No. 1 team in the West. They've been consistent all year long. For him to be at the age he's at, with the amount of miles that he has on his body, how often he's talked about, the pressure that they put on him in every little thing that he does, and the level that he's performing at—I feel like he's the MVP."

Lillard's right about James' consistency.

At the age of 35, he's performing at an unprecedented level considering this is his 17th season, averaging 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and a league-leading 10.6 assists per game.

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James' numbers are impressive, but his impact on the Los Angeles Lakers is worth noting, too. The Lakers (49-14) are first in the Western Conference after missing the playoffs for the last six years.

This has been a redemption season of sorts for the four-time MVP, who had to watch on as Kawhi Leonard challenged his reign as the best player on the planet while taking the Toronto Raptors to its first-ever championship.

Still, James still has genuine competition from Antetokounmpo, who was having an MVP-caliber year of his own with the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the best overall record in the league at 53-12.

The Greek Freak is averaging a career-high 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per outing.

If the season were to resume and more regular-season games were played, that would likely help the voters decide.

But if teams are forced to jump immediately into postseason play, voters will have to rely on what Antetokounmpo and James have already done to decide on a winner.

       

Alex Caruso Doesn't Want to Squander Chance at Title

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Alex Caruso #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles during a game against the Golden State Warriors on February 27, 2020 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
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There's a reason why the top 16 teams in the NBA want to resume play this season.

Championships are hard to come by, so when a team is on a roll and has a real chance to win one, they want to play it out and see if they accomplish the ultimate goal.

That's why Alex Caruso wants to finish the season. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis playing at the top of their games, his Lakers have a real shot at winning the title.

"That's the simple reason why I want to finish the season. There is no other reason other than that," Caruso told a recent episode of The LiucciCast. "I mean, obviously you want to get paid, you want to get all your money and you don't want to mess up the CBA, but you don't get a lot of chances to win a ring unless your name is LeBron James, right?"

Caruso's right. Should the season resume, this will be the first time the Purple and Gold will be in the playoffs since 2013.

With that kind of drought, it's easy to see why the star reserve guard is eager to get back on the court.

"I'm a role player, I know my role and I'm working to get better and to maybe have a bigger role on different teams, but I know that the chances are very slim," Caruso said. "You don't get many opportunities, and you hear that from so many people around the league and in professional sports, that you don't get a lot of opportunities to win championships.

"I'm not taking this for granted. I'm 100 percent, 10 toes in trying to get back in and win this, because that would be a life accomplishment, career accomplishment, you can't top that. It would be nice to get one, and then obviously if I got one I'm gonna try and get another one. I'm just excited to be a part of it."

Before the season was shuttered, the Lakers were on a roll, winning major games against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Caruso was also playing well, leading the charge for the second unit with his scoring and defensive ability.

If L.A. can come back with the same chemistry they displayed before the break, it's easy to assume that they will be favorites to come out of the West.

"I want to be the last one standing," Caruso said. "I want to know what that feeling is, and I think we have the team to do it. I'm just getting excited talking about it right now, I'm getting a little hyped up."

       

Follow Maurice Bobb on Twitter, @ReeseReport

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