Despite facing limited minutes in 2016-17, Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James believes he can still win a fifth NBA MVP award.
After guiding the Cavs to their first championship last season, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue has vowed to reduce James’ load in a bid to keep the 31-year-old fresh for the playoffs.
But James – who averaged 36.1 points in 2014-15 and 35.6 last season – is still bullish about his chances, pointing to two-time reigning MVP Steph Curry as an example.
Curry averaged 34.2 minutes for the Golden State Warriors in 2015-16, having averaged 32.7 the season prior.
When asked if he was concerned that Lue’s plans to manage his minutes could affect his chances of dethroning Curry, James replied on Saturday: “No. Because Steph played 31 minutes a game and he won the MVP.”
With that said, James is not placing his MVP hopes ahead of Cleveland’s bid for back-to-back titles.
“I’ve never set into a season saying I want to win MVP,” he said. “I’ve always thought of the season saying I want to be MVP for my team and it’s resulted in me getting four of them. So I’ve been available, for the most part, every night and I’ve been available on both sides of the floor. I’ve been healthy.
“So the simple fact that I’ve been able to win four has been an honour, and it’s been a tribute to what I’ve been able to accomplish in my career, but more importantly being able to be on the floor with my team-mates. So, it will be great if I’m able to accomplish another one by doing what I need to do to help this team win. Because we got to win to get one.
“No matter how great your individual numbers are or your play is, your team has to be successful, and I’ve been able to be a part of some successful teams so far.”