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NBA GMs see LeBron James as favorite to win MVP

LeBron James comes into his first season with the Lakers with plenty to prove. General managers around the league seem to think he’s capable of living up to those expectations.

NBA: Preseason-Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

According to many, LeBron James has quite the daunting task in front of him in lifting the perceived group of misfits that is the Los Angeles Lakers to the playoffs. Based on the results of the NBA’s annual general manager survey, it would seem that those tasked with running James’ competition think he’s up to the challenge.

The league’s GMs voted for all kinds of stuff regarding both team and individual predictions, and they seem to think James will win MVP, though the margin is quite slim.

Here’s how the voting broke down, via John Schuhmann of NBA.com.

Who will win the 2018-19 Kia MVP?

1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers – 30%

2. Kevin Durant, Golden State –27%

3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans – 17%

4. James Harden, Houston – 10%

Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Kyrie Irving, Boston; Kawhi Leonard, Toronto; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City

James also received the fourth-most votes for the player GMs would want to start a team with, as well as the most votes in the “Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments,” “best passer,” “best leader,” “most versatile” and “best basketball IQ” categories.

Additionally, James received votes for which player GMs would want taking the final shot with the game on the line, toughest player and best player at moving without the ball while also being voted as the best small forward in the league and the second-best power forward. It’s good to be King.

But back to the MVP voting, Durant being second on this list is interesting, however, I don’t quite see it. The Warriors are too stacked and will probably sleepwalk through the majority of this season. As great as Durant is, seasons like that almost never get rewarded with MVP.

#FutureLaker Anthony Davis is a lot more intriguing. There isn’t a second bonafide star in New Orleans and they’re going to be fighting for playoff positioning all season. If he gets them comfortably into the postseason, he’d get my vote, and he’s definitely more than capable of pulling this off. I can’t wait ‘til he’s a Laker.

Back to James, though. The biggest question here is whether he’ll play enough minutes and, frankly, play hard enough to win the award. In years past, he was focused more on merely getting to the playoffs with as much stored up energy to beat anyone he’d see in the Eastern Conference. In the west, however, that technique risks missing the playoffs altogether.

So the question, then, becomes about balance. Can James figure out a way to get the Lakers to the postseason and also save enough energy to do some damage if and when they get there? That’s the biggest question surrounding the Lakers this season, and it’ll be fascinating to find out answer.