The NBA is filled with hundreds of the world’s best basketball players. Each year, superstars try to prove themselves as the best of the best after working on their craft during the offseason, by winning the Most Valuable Player award. Last year, Rockets superstar James Harden claimed the trophy after averaging 30.4 ppg, 5.4rpg, 8.8 apg and 1.8 spg while leading the Rockets to a league-best 65-17 Record. The MVP award is typically given to those that play great while also leading their team to a top seed in the conference. With that, let’s get right into it.
- 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
- Stats: 25.6 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.5 bpg (55.8% FG, 12.5% 3PT, 68.1% FT)
- The Greek Freak has been ON FIRE to start out the season. Playing now in a better system under coach Mike Budenholzer, Giannis has been putting up great numbers on great efficiency, and is even taking a couple of three point attempts. The great thing is he’s doing this while only playing 32.6 mpg, as he has led his team to the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference with an 11-4 start to the season.
2. Damian Lillard
Stats: 26.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 6.1 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.3 bpg (44.1% FG, 35.0% 3PT, 92.4% FT)
Dame D.O.L.L.A. has led the Trail Blazers to an incredible 11-5 start, good for first in the Western Conference. After his below average playoff performance against the Pelicans, Lillard has been making up for it as his team’s primary ball handler and scorer. Next to C.J. McCollum, the two have formed one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in the league, capable of scoring on most defenders at will.
3. LeBron James
Stats: 28.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 6.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.9 bpg (52.0% FG, 39.6% 3PT, 75.0% FT)
LeBron James should always be in MVP conversations. Just last night, he finished with a season-high 51 points against the Miami Heat, as this young Lakers team now have a record of 9-7. Both LeBron and the Lakers started out the season slowly, but seem rejuvenated with the addition of Tyson Chandler. Don’t count them out just yet, and don’t count out LeBron and his chances of winning MVP.
4. Joel Embiid
Stats: 27.7 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 3.8 apg, 0.4 spg, 2.2 bpg (45.9% FG, 32.9% 3PT, 81.4% FT)
The Sixers only have a 11-7 record, but Embiid has been dominating so far. Embiid is one of the best defensive centers and rim protectors in the league, but is also one of the best offensive centers in the league as well. He hasn’t been shooting the ball well as of late, but this may change with the addition of Jimmy Butler.
5. Kawhi Leonard
Stats: 24.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.4 bpg (47.3% FG, 34.0% 3PT, 86.9% FT)
After missing most of last season and being traded to the Raptors in the offseason, Kawhi has proven himself to be the player we saw back in 2016, where he finished 3rd in MVP voting. His combination of elite offense and defense has been key factor in the Raptors successes thus far, especially with teammate Kyle Lowry helping him with playmaking. Leonard, who also happens to be a perennial DPOY candidate, has sat out some games due to rest which could negatively impact his chances at winning the award. However, as the best player on the best team so far, Leonard deserves consideration as he has led the Raptors to a 13-4 record.
6. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Stats: 29.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 6.1 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.3 bpg (51.5% FG, 49.2% 3PT, 92.3% FT)
The 2-time MVP is making another impressive run at the prestigious award. After a hot start to the season, Curry went down with a groin injury that has caused him to miss 6 games. Despite his impressive numbers, perhaps the most significant showing of Curry’s value would be their horrible 2-4 record (including a narrow win over the Hawks). The Warriors are currently under a 3-game losing streak and would need Curry back to turn the tables quickly, but still have a 12-6 record which is tied for 2nd in the West (4th due to seeding rules). If healthy, Curry would definitely finish Top 3.
7. Anthony Davis
Stats: 27.5 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.3 spg, 2.8 bpg (48.0% FG, 36.7% 3PT, 79.2% FT)
In my opinion, Davis is the DPOY front-runner as of right now. He’s averaging elite numbers on both ends of the floor, but as we all know, stats don’t tell the big picture. Watching AD play with such intensity and a mix of both offense and defense has helped the Pelicans get off to a 9-7 start, which is impressive considering injuries to key players such as Elfrid Payton, Nikola Mirotic, and a minor injury to Julius Randle. He should climb the ladder in a few weeks if he maintains his stellar play.
8. Nikola Jokic
Stats: 17.6 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 7.0 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.9 bpg (51.8% FG, 38.0% 3PT, 81.8% FT)
“The Joker” was probably the Week 1 NBA MVP after putting up excellent numbers and leading the Nuggets to an undefeated record. He has slowed down for sure as of late, becoming less aggressive in terms of scoring the ball but is still amazing nonetheless, leading the team to a 10-6 record. The Nuggets are currently undergoing a stretch of poor basketball, losing 5 of their last 6 games after starting out 9-1. After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, fans have high expectations for Jokic and the Nuggets to make a deep playoff push.
9. Kevin Durant
Stats: 27.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 6.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.8 bpg (50.4% FG, 32.4% 3PT, 92.5% FT)
Durant is one of the most hated NBA players by fans, but there is no doubt that he is also one of the best we’ve ever seen play. He is one of the greatest scorers of all-time and is pretty good on the defensive end. The problem is how the Warriors are doing right now without Steph on the team. They’ve lost 4 of their last 5 games in games that they should have won on paper. Despite the Warriors struggling, they still have a good enough record that KD find himself on the ladder.
10. James Harden
Stats: 27.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 7.3 apg, 2.3 spg, 0.7 bpg (42.5% FG, 35.6% 3PT, 81.5% FT)
The reigning league MVP, James Harden and the Houston Rockets started out the season poorly, becoming one of the last teams to get onto the win column. Since then, the trio of Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela are slowly climbing back into the playoff race. Harden’s skill at scoring and playmaking still remains as one of the best in the league, and his value is no question as the Rockets lost a couple of games with him out.
Honorable Mentions (arranged alphabetically):
- Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder)
- Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics)
- Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
- Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets)
Thanks for reading! Make sure to check back next week for another MVP Ladder! Follow @UniqueSportplus on Twitter and thanks to @rylieisabeast for the edit! Make sure to follow him too!