One of the main discussion (more like argument) points so far in this NBA season revolves around which is the best team in the league: The Cleveland Cavaliers, the defending champions, or the Golden State Warriors, owners of the best record in the league. The tipping point of this whole debate is LeBron James.
How so? James is getting rest days here and there. So far, the Cavs have been unable to win a single game without him, going 0-3 when he sits. When James does play, the Cavaliers are 25-4, which would give them the best record in the NBA, winning 86.2% of their games. The Warriors, are 29-5, winning 85.3% of their games.
Another interesting note on this matter is the strength of schedule for the Cavaliers. When LeBron James has played (29 games so far), the Cavs have the second most difficult schedule in the league based on current winning percentage, 52.1%. Surprisingly, the 10-24 Dallas Mavericks (tied for the worst in the Western conference) have the most difficult strength of schedule thus far. And they have a bad, injured team, obviously not helping.
Right now, on most people’s ballots, I think Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden seem to be leading in the MVP race. Rightfully so? Perhaps. James isn’t putting up their kind of numbers, and the name MVP is misleading, often simply given to the best player in the league over the course of a season, not the one who is actually most determinant to his team, nor the actual best player in the league.
But when he’s averaging 25.6 points, 8.7 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game and half the time it seems like he’s coasting, it’s hard not to call James the best in the league, or the most influential player in regards to his team. Still, when he’s 32, with 3 NBA championship rings on his fingers. And although one game with a one point win doesn’t really determine anything, James in this form is still the best player in the NBA, giving the Cavaliers the edge in the “best team in the NBA” argument, just by a tiny bit.