To start the 2020-21 NBA season, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James looked like a man on a mission despite being 36 years of age in the 18th year of his career.
Going into the season, many people were under the assumption that James would take it easy in the regular season coming off a championship and shortened offseason.
That was not the case though as James played every single game in the first half sans the final one before the All-Star break. In 41 games, he has averaged 25.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists with efficient shooting splits and improved defense, making him perhaps the favorite to win his fifth MVP award.
Unfortunately though, James went down with a high ankle sprain in the Lakers’ loss to the Atlanta Hawks on March 20, which has forced him to miss the last month of action.
With James going down, to no surprise, his MVP odds followed as other star players have remained healthy and produced for their respective teams. ESPN’s Tim Bontempts recently took a straw poll amongst media members to see who is the favorite to win MVP, and James came in at fifth:
By the looks of the poll, it looks like Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic may be running away with this year’s MVP, and well deserved considering he has stayed healthy and kept his team in the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference despite dealing with some other key injuries. Nuggets star point guard Jamal Murray most recently went down with a season-ending ACL tear.
Reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks also looks to still be in the mix. A lot of people counted him out early due to his postseason struggles the last two years, but it’s important to remember that MVP is a regular-season award and Antetokounmpo is in the midst of another stellar season.
James inching towards return
While James admittedly would’ve liked to win MVP this year, the main focus now is on getting healthy in time for the postseason so the Lakers can make another championship run.
Anthony Davis, who has also been out with injury, is expected to return sometime within the next week. It appears James may not be far behind him as although the Lakers haven’t given an official update, it was reported a little over a week ago that James was approximately three weeks away from a return to action.
With only 15 games left in the regular season, hopefully the Lakers can get both of their stars back with enough time to get them integrated into the lineup with the new pieces like Andre Drummond before the postseason begins.
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