The season is just shy of a month old, are we’re starting to get a sense of the players who will be doing battle the rest of the season in hopes of capturing the NBA’s most prestigious individual award. Here’s the top five:
5.) DeMar DeRozan
Fresh off a signing a monster $140 million contract to stay up north, DeRozan has certainly lived up to the billing.
His ridiculous 33 PPG (if upheld) would be the highest scoring average of any player since Kobe averaged 35 in 06′. His stellar play has Toronto sitting pretty in the third seed, and they look a real threat to Cleveland’s Eastern Conference reign.
4.) Kevin Durant
Critics wondered the throughout the offseason whether or not KD would be able to fit in alongside the back-to-back Western Conference champs, and thus far, he’s answered with an emphatic yes.
Not only has he fit in, but he’s quickly found himself as lead dog in the Golden State hierarchy, averaging 28 points on an eye-popping, borderline unsustainable 57% from the floor. It looks like we ruled out KD as an MVP candidate a little too prematurely.
3.) LeBron James
Lost in the hype of #1 and 2 on this list is LeBron James, quietly putting up one of the best seasons of his career.
Though he’s let Kyrie take over the bulk of the scoring (the 23.2 PPG would be the lowest since his rookie season), he’s more than made up for it with his contributions in other aspects, averaging over 9 assists and nearly matching that number in rebounds (both would be career highs). And with the way Cleveland is playing, it would take a real heroic effort to prevent them from 3-peating the east.
2.) James Harden
Believe it or not, Harden was once a relatively selfish player with shockingly low assist numbers coming off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Flash forward to 2016, and Harden is arguably the best passer in the league, leading the NBA in dimes with 12 a night, to go along with his usual 28 points. Houston is right in the mix to grab a top seed in the West, and that team success might be enough to put the Beard over the top.
1.) Russell Westbrook
Usually we wouldn’t put a player whose team is on the fringe of a playoff spot at the top of an MVP list, but the numbers with Russ are simply too staggering to ignore.
He’s putting up nearly 32 points per, to go along with 10.1 assists and 9.6 rebounds. With any luck, he’ll finish this season averaging a high-scoring triple double, and surely that’s enough to take home MVP honors, regardless of a team’s seed.