Los Angeles Lakers forward Jared Dudley believes he knows who truly deserves to win the NBA’s 2019-20 regular season MVP award, and it’s none other than teammate LeBron James.
Dudley’s opinion on this year’s MVP race holds some weight as he once played alongside Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is currently the perceived favorite.
In a recent interview with The Athletic, Dudley weighed in on the MVP debate with a unique perspective.
“Giannis has improved but LeBron is at such a high level,” Dudley said. “Of the mental aspect of the game. Of telling AD (Anthony Davis) where to be at. As a leader, because I’ve heard people that played with Kawhi [Leonard] and Giannis, and from a leadership standpoint, what this man does, on and off the court, is the best. I’ve played with guys like [Steve] Nash, Chris Paul. There is no one that compares to LeBron’s leadership, on and off the floor. His demeanor, with what he does, to still be a guys’ guy, to do the team dinners, to hang out, to bringing the whole Lakers organization together. Who really deserves the MVP this season? Both deserve it. Do I think LeBron is a little bit more deserving? Yes. Do I think Giannis’ stats are better? Yes. But the MVP is not necessarily the best stats.
“That’s why I’m giving LeBron the edge. I’ll be the first one to tell everybody, I think Giannis’ stats are a little bit better, but I believe LeBron has been more valuable this year.”
Statistically, James and Antetokounmpo are at a level beyond most NBA players.
James’ season averages of 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game in only 34.9 minutes of playing time is astounding for a player in his 17th season. He also leads the league in assists this season.
Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP, is posting numbers similar to his from last season. He is averaging career-highs in points (29.6) and rebounds (13.7) per game, while adding 5.8 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block a night.
The fact that the Bucks are leading the league in the standings gives MVP voters something to consider in Antetokounmpo’s favor as well.
However, as Dudley pointed out, James’ leadership is a cut above the rest and that is what separates him from the Bucks superstar.