Sixers MVP ladder: Does Joel Embiid still have top spot?

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(Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
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2021 NBA MVP ladder #4: LeBron James

No disrespect to LeBron James, who is universally considered the best player in basketball. He is putting together a tremendous season, and the Lakers are firmly in contention at 23-11. That said, his proclivity for appearing No. 1 on a lot of MVP ladders is somewhat baffling. James probably deserves more than the four MVP awards on his resume, but he’s not front-running at the moment.

On the season, James is averaging 25.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 7.9 assists on 50.2 percent shooting. He is shredding defenses in thoroughly LeBron fashion, blending speed, strength, and playmaking vision unlike any player in the league. He is not only one of the NBA’s most gifted scorers, but a tried-and-true clutch performer who can flip the proverbial switch better than any other star.

James is also playing strong defense this season, adding to the narrative of rejuvenation in his age 36 season. The Lakers are winning basketball games and now are without Anthony Davis for an extended stretch. Even so, to call James the frontrunner feels doubtlessly disingenuous. There are better scorers and more prolific creators when taking this one single season into account. The Lakers are also 1-4 in the last five games — a rough start to the non-Davis stretch many assumed would bolster James’ case.

There is no doubting LeBron’s talent. Is is a truly singular force in this league, and there is no player I would rather have in the postseason. There is a very real discussion to be had about James’ GOAT status, and he deserves all the career-long accolades lobbed in his direction. That said, for this regular season award, he’s currently running a few spots behind first place.