Many may think this season is too young for anyone to have formed any rational conclusions about potential MVP candidates. Not me. A number of players who were expected to be up the top end of voting have kicked off their seasons in fine style, while a couple of dark horses are looking likely to force their way into the conversation.
Here is a list of the players making the early running for the MVP, complete with a couple of surprises.
The Greek Freak. What more can be said? While he wasn’t too far down the pecking order in pre-season MVP predictions, many thought the Bucks would struggle to win enough games to warrant Giannis Antetokounmpo’s selection.
The way he’s playing at the moment, his Bucks could win 30 games and he would still be a chance. Antetokounmpo is averaging nearly 35 points per game on an impossible 63.1% shooting, as well as nearly 11 boards, 5.5 assists, and more than one block and two steals per night.
He’s also proved useful in big moments, sealing a victory against Portland in the third game of the season with a clutch steal, go-ahead dunk, and game saving block, all in the last 15 seconds.
Everyone knows John Wall is a very good player. He has elite speed and great court vision, and these capabilities mean he is able to push his way right up into the upper echelon of players in the league. For a couple of years, though, he’s been simply a very good player on a good team.
This season, Wall looks to be taking things to a new level. He’s started off the season averaging just under 22 points and over ten assists a game, while keeping turnovers to a relative minimum – his eight turnovers against Detroit being an exception.
Wall has been the primary instigator in the Wizards’ hot start to the season, leading them to victories in four of their first six games.
Blake Griffin was expected by many to have a big year this season if his body held up, particularly given the departure of Chris Paul and his expected transition into a primary ball handler.
So far, he’s justifying those expectations, averaging 23.3 points, 8.5 boards, and 4.3 assists per game, while shooting close to 50% from the field and a surely unsustainable 42.4% from deep. His new-found shooting talents have already proved match-winning, with a smooth stroke from beyond the arc defeating the Blazers at the buzzer in Week 2.
The Clippers are exceeding pre-season calculations with a 4-2 start to the year, and Griffin is a major reason for this.
It feels like the King will be in these discussions forever. Most NBA enthusiasts agree that he is capable of making the MVP his own if he truly felt the need to, but LeBron, generally, seems to have his sights set on bigger things – namely the playoffs.
His stats through seven games this season are incredible, and yet relatively normal for him. He is averaging nearly 25 points per game, as well as 7.1 boards, 8.6 assists, a block and a steal. LeBron’s 24.6 points are also coming at an incredible efficiency, as he has shot 58.6% from the field so far this season, and over 40% from downtown. Scary stuff.
The MVP race is looking like being a close one this season, and there are more than four guys capable of taking it home. Russell Westbrook’s statistical dominance is showing no sign of slowing down in the presence of new teammates Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, while Chris Paul’s absence means James Harden has maintained his high usage rate and is filling the stats sheet.
Kevin Durant has started the year hot, averaging 25.4 points on over 53% shooting, as well as 7.8 boards, 4.6 assists, and 2.4 blocks per game. Steph Curry is scoring 28 a game despite shooting at 38% from deep, a figure which will likely improve as the season wears on.
Kawhi Leonard will have his work cut out to figure in the race due to his early season absence, but certainly has the talent to do so. Kyrie Irving has been solid at Boston, and will have an increased workload throughout the season due to Gordon Hayward’s gruesome injury.
As the season wears on, the number of legitimate NBA MVP candidates will whittle down. Some of the names mentioned will drop off while others will propel themselves ahead of the field. At this early stage, Giannis is undoubtedly the man to catch.
Who do you think will take out this season’s MVP award? Comment below!
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