With Anthony Davis out for at least four weeks, Lebron James is on the spot more than ever.
Now on his 18th NBA season, James is still the NBA’s best player owing to the fact that he was the 2019-20 NBA Finals MVP for his champion team, the Los Angeles Lakers.
But because critics will always have their say, there were doubters who thought Bron could not have made it that far were it not for Davis who had to do most of the heavy lifting.
DAVIS. But this season, Davis has been playing subpar -- well at least in comparison to his own lofty standards.
He is down to 22.5 ppg and 8.4 rpg from 26.1 and 9.3 last year. Lebron is pacing the team in with 25.9 points and 8.2 rebounds.
In a previous column I opined that I find this iteration of the Lakers team weaker than last year’s championship team.
Lost in all the drama in the NBA bubble last year was the fact that they were a very good defensive team with Dwight Howard and Javalee McGee providing outstanding rim protection and NBA champions Danny Green and Rajon Rondo dishing out solid defense.
The aforementioned four are gone now and in place are an aging and lethargic Marc Gasol and Dennis Schroeder and Montrezl Harrell who are known more for their offense.
Lebron can play defense but he plays it in spurts now. Sure he can chase down and block an opposing player’s shot every now and then, but he spreads himself too much if he plays the defense card, because as we know, a prodigious talent like him wears many hats and he cant be burning out both ends of the candle.
So the bulk of the defensive duties falls on seven-footer Davis who, entering this season, many predicted to finally have a breakout year.
STANDINGS. Currently, the Lakers are in second place in the Western Conference with 22 wins and eight losses, trailing behind the league-leading Utah Jazz who are 24 and five.
Lebron currently leads the MVP race in the KIA rankings, followed closely by Joel Embiid who is also having a monster year with his Philadelphia 76ers sitting atop the Eastern Conference with 20 wins and 10 losses. Damian Lillard is mounting a furious rally and is currently in third place.
Traditionally, the MVP which is given out as a regular season award is given to the best player in a winning team (not necessarily the best in the standings). So the aforementioned three have a pretty good shot, while Kawhi Leonard and even Paul George also have legitimate claims because the Clippers are playing well and they are in third place in the standings.
There is still a lot of basketball left to be played and the Lakers recently lost to the New Jersey Nets who were also without their best player, Kevin Durant.
Truly, this will be the toughest test of Lebron’s MVP mettle. A few years ago, he was able to drag a rag-tag Cleveland Cavaliers kicking and screaming into the NBA Finals.
Does the King still have it? It will be riveting to see him try.
VERBATIM. “Alam ko beterano si Saludar pero ang magpapanalo sa akin ay tapang ng dibdib.” -- Robert Paradero who is facing fellow Pinoy Vic Saluder for the vacant WBA miminumweight crown. (www.philboxing.com)
LAST ROUNDS. Are on Tetchie Zosa-Tan and Atty Astrox Canama who recently celebrated their birthdays. Cheers!