Eastern Conference MVP of the First Trimester: LeBron James, Heat
I feel like the guy from the wireless network commercials who's stuffed into a tiny chair at one of those low-to-the-ground kindergarten tables and surrounded by adorable kids.
It's not complicated.
Unreserved props to Paul George for giving us at least one more name to consider in this cyberspace from this wretched two-team conference. But ... c'mon.
George carries a huge offensive burden on an Indy team that has no one else scoring better than Lance Stephenson's 13.4 points per game -- and he's made hugely impressive jumps as a scorer (17.4 PPG to 23.9 PPG) and in all of the various shooting categories percentage-wise -- but how do you nominate anyone here besides LeBron?
As we tweeted over the weekend, LeBron is threatening to become just the second player in history to average at least 25 points for an entire season while shooting 60 percent from the field. You'll recall that the only player who has done so -- Kevin McHale -- was regularly stationed closer to the basket than LeBron is.
I've certainly been among those openly wondering if LeBron isn't quite shooting enough because he's so obsessed with efficiency and, whether he wants to admit it or not, subconsciously seduced by the whole 60 percent thing and trying everything in his power to stay in that unfathomable shooting stratosphere. But then you see games like Monday night's against Atlanta, when he does whatever he has to do to save the Heat from a home defeat on one of Dwyane Wade's rest days, and you end up telling yourself to shut up.
Click on LeBron's ESPN player card again if you want to be instantly wowed. The .599 shooting from the field. The .417 shooting from 3-point range. The PER of 30.32 in a league where no else sports a higher rating than Kevin Love’s 27.94. (LeBron’s scoring, rebounding and assisting are all marginally down from last season ... but don’t forget he’s also played two minutes per game less than he did in 2012-13.)
Then there's the defense he's played against George this season, hounding Indy’s main man into 3-for-13 shooting with five turnovers in two games when LeBron has directly checked him, all of which only serves to remind us that No. 6 is the best two-way player in the game and could presumably force his way into the Defensive Player of the Year race if he didn't have to devote so much nightly energy into other areas.
Does anyone affect every aspect of the game like James?
It's not complicated.