It has been over three years since LeBron James has won an MVP award. Over the last three years, it's been hard to argue with the selections of Kevin Durant, followed by back to back awards for Steph Curry. It's a regular season award and James has made a habit of preserving himself for a playoff run.
But with Durant and Curry joining forces in Golden State and the stigma that comes from superteams, it seems as though James might have his best shot at an MVP in awhile, even if he continues to save himself.
When James joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat, the backlash was even more significant than what Durant and the Warriors are currently facing. The Heat were not as dominant out of the gate as many expected and even though it was hard to question James' status of best player on the planet, the MVP award still went to Derrick Rose, who was seen as the "savior" that could defeat the Heatles. Goodwill from the media helped deliver the award to Rose, who was deserving, but perhaps not as deserving as James or even Dwight Howard.
With the Warriors winning 73 games last season, it would appear hard to deem either Curry or Durant as "most valuable" as they are both top-three players in the league. It would likely take one of the two missing significant time in order to build a case for one being the most valuable player in the league. Especially if the team fails to reach it's high watermark of 73 wins again.
Russell Westbrook will also be a popular candidate for MVP. But it seems unlikely that the Thunder will be good enough to warrant receiving the award unless he puts up an other-worldly stat line.
The reality is that MVP voting is a little silly. It usually goes to the best player on a top team that is the flavor of the month. With the Warriors taking on the villain role and James cementing his legacy last season after coming back from a 3-1 deficit to win a title, he seems in line for a "we spend too much time criticizing you and not enough time appreciating you" award. That , or a legacy MVP award like Kobe Bryant received in 2008.
James doesn't need to be the best player in the NBA during the regular season for the Cavs to be successful, and he may not need to be in order to win the MVP. The Cavs should play more relaxed next season and have a sense of continuity and chemistry for a change. With the team trusting one another, we may even see a return to the more efficient version of James that doesn't need to shoulder as significant of a load.
Considering James has acknowledged that he is chasing the ghost of Michael Jordan, I wouldn't be surprised to see him push for a fifth award, tying Michael Jordan.