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Why LeBron James is the MVP over Giannis Antetokounmpo, per Lakers’ Jared Dudley

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Jared Dudley went up to bat for his Los Angeles Lakers teammate LeBron James in a long offseason chat with The Athletic. The veteran forward has been known to be a thorough analyst of the game and he gave his reasoning as to why he would give his teammate the slight edge over reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“LeBron where he’s at now, leading the league in assists. Getting challenged by Anthony Davis defensively and not only holding the challenge, but taking the challenge to a whole ‘nother level. Going toward the end, he’s guarding the second- or third-best players in the league, in my opinion, in Giannis and Kawhi,” Dudley told Michael Lee of The Athletic. “He’s guarding them at 35. He’s guarding them the majority of the game, fourth quarter, with his reputation on the line defensively. People say he’s trying to save energy, but he’s guarding them and we’re winning. It’s because of that. Now, offensively he’s still carrying the load and the difference between him and these other players is his ability to get everybody involved.”

Dudley praised Antetokounmpo for what he’s managed to achieve and how much he’s improved over the years, but when it comes to his vote — it’s going to LeBron.

“Who really deserves the MVP this season? Both deserve it,” said Dudley. “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.”

It’s tough to argue with his logic, but Dudley is also underplaying just how much Antetokounmpo means to his team. If the latest chunk of the 2019-20 season is any evidence, the Bucks lost their last three games — their last two were without Antetokounmpo. A mock vote of this season’s MVP race has The Greek Freak as the leading vote-getter by a good mile.

James has been a rock for this Lakers team and he is undeniably valuable to them, but he is playing catchup in a race that Antetokounmpo has been leading the whole way.