If it’s even conceivable, LeBron James actually was even better last year as the lead the Miami Heat to the NBA title, with LeBron earning his first championship as well as his first NBA Finals MVP award.
LeBron won his third regular-season award in four seasons in 2011-12 and he is the overwhelming +150 WagerWeb.com favorite to add a fourth this season. Only seven other players — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone — have at least three MVP trophies. Abdul-Jabbar holds the record with six.
Last year, James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists — making him only the fourth player with those totals in at least two different seasons, joining Oscar Robertson (five times), John Havlicek (twice) and Larry Bird (twice).
James also shot 53 percent from the field and averaged 1.9 steals per game. Only Jordan had a season with numbers exceeding what James did this season in those categories — 1988-89, when he averaged 32.5 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and 2.9 steals on 54 percent shooting.
James was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month twice (January and February), and he captured Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors six times, extending his NBA record for the most Player of the Week awards to 37.
James has scored double-figure points in 419 consecutive career regular-season games, the seventh-longest streak in NBA history, behind Michael Jordan (866), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (streaks of 787 and 508), Karl Malone (575), Moses Malone (526), and Oscar Robertson (428).
The only reason LeBron hasn’t won four in a row was that Bulls point guard Derrick Rose interrupted the streak in 2010-11, but then LeBron’s Heat dominated the Bulls in that year’s East Finals.
Rose appeared in only 39 of 66 regular-season games last season because of a variety of injuries. His season ended in Game 1 of the Bulls’ first-round playoff series against Philadelphia, when he tore a knee ligament. Rose isn’t a betting option this year as he will miss at least the first half of the season.
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the NBA’s three-time scoring champ, finished runner-up in the MVP voting to LeBron last year and is the +325 second-favorite on WagerWeb.com.
The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant at +900 is the only other MVP betting option under +1000. Kobe led the NBA in scoring much of last season before being passed right at the end by Durant. Somewhat surprisingly, Kobe has won just a single MVP award, in 2007-08. He finished fourth in the voting last year.