We are long past the point of trying to encapsulate what LeBron James is doing at his age. After making a habit of holding off Father Time, LeBron has put him in a headlock this season by turning back the clock entirely.
His most recent In-Season Tournament performances against the Suns and Pelicans have been the most glowing examples of that. After dominating the fourth quarter against Phoenix, LeBron dominated the first three quarters against New Orleans.
LeBron James over his last four quarters - 4th quarter vs. PHX, 1st-3rd quarter vs. NOLA:— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) December 9, 2023
That recent strong play has certainly drawn the attention of fans and, as a result, has really started to raise the notion of LeBron being in the MVP race, even if his teammates have already started advocating for it.
“Without question,” Darvin Ham said postgame when asked if LeBron should be in the conversation. “Without question. The way he impacts winning, what he’s doing at this stage of his career, without question. That’s a no-brainer.”
For now, Las Vegas doesn’t quite agree with the notion as LeBron is a longshot to win MVP. His current odds of +6500 rank 13th in the league and behind Devin Booker (+4000), De’Aaron Fox (+4000) and even Tyrese Haliburton (+1500), among others. What LeBron does have a good chance of winning, for now, is the In-Season Tournament MVP, where he is the current odds-on favorite at -155.
When looking big picture, though, LeBron’s strong run through the tournament is going to raise some eyebrows. LeBron has carried an enormous load this season because of Lakers injuries and it hasn’t slowed him down.
“I’m a simple guy, man, so I stick to one word: extraordinary, otherworldly. That’s two, I know,” Ham said with a smile when discussing James’ performance vs. the Pelicans. “He’s the ultimate tone-setter, man. For him to go out from the start, everything from our meeting to our walkthrough, everything, his communication, helping guys visually see what gameplan we were trying to execute and were able to execute, his energy, him sacrificing his body – three charges – he set an unbelievable tone on both sides of the basketball for us tonight and his teammates followed suit.
“It’s a huge, huge blessing to have that working in your favor and to be on the same side as that.”
Whether he’s in the MVP conversation right now in early December is a bit of a moot point. If the Lakers continue stringing together wins, LeBron keeps playing at a high level and the Lakers continue to rise up the standings, his name will end up in that conversation by default.
For now, just enjoy that we get to watch LeBron do this yet again this season, a truly remarkable feat.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.