Perkins: LeBron James, for now, deserves fourth MVP

MIAMI – Perhaps the main reason you think Oklahoma City superstar forward Kevin Durant deserves the MVP this season instead of Miami superstar forward LeBron James is because you think it’s “his time.”

That’s OK. It happens every now and then in the NBA. In years when the MVP race is closely contested, the award goes to our favorite player, or the player we feel is most deserving, or the guy you’d hate to see end his career without an MVP.

“LeBron already has three,” you tell yourself. “And he won it last year.”

Well, LeBron deserves a fourth MVP. This season.

Make no mistake, this is a very close race. I could justify Durant winning the MVP award, as our editor-in-chief did over the weekend.

But right now, just past the midway point of the NBA season, here’s the determining factor:

James has to carry more weight on his shoulders for the elderly Heat (34-14) than Durant has to carry for the spry Thunder (39-12).

In other words, if James has an off night, the Heat have almost no chance of winning. If Durant has an off night, the Thunder still have a fighting chance.

That’s why James is the winner, whether your personal MVP vote goes to the:

  • Player of the Year (the guy who had the best season)
  • Baseball-style MVP (the most essential player on a playoff team)
  • Mixture of philosophies (the guy who lifted his team the most; the guy who had the best season; the guy who is the best player on a playoff team, etc…)

I’m not a Durant hater. He’s an incredible player and he’s having a spectacular season. Statistically, Durant’s season might be better than James’.

It’s just that LeBron, overall, has to do more for his team to win.

James is averaging 27 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 fouls per game, and he’s doing that while playing 38.4 minutes. He’s also shooting a career-best 56.2 percent from the field.

Here’s a guy who is perhaps the best lockdown defender in the NBA and earlier this year he went five consecutive games without having a foul called against him. He did that while defending four positions.

That’s defensive dominance.

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