We are less than a month into the new NBA season, fresh with trades and newly constructed teams. But, it’s never too early to talk about the NBA MVP race!
When you think of an MVP, you typically think of the guys who have done it in the past. Think Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant. This year has started off slightly different. Here are the current top 5 MVP candidates for the 17-18 NBA season.
The Way Too Early NBA MVP Race
5. James Harden – Houston Rockets
The only player returning from the race last year is James Harden. After acquiring Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers, and Paul being promptly injured, Harden once again takes the reins for the Mike D’Antoni offense. Even after giving up 8 players, a protected draft pick, and cash options, a Chris Paul-less Houston Rockets team are still tied with the Golden State Warriors for first place in the Western Conference early on at 8-3. Tack on The Beard averaging 29.5 points per game and 9.7 assists per game and it’s safe to say Harden is having another special season. The lack of Chris Paul only adds to his case, showing how great he is taking the team on his back himself.
4. DeMarcus Cousins & Anthony Davis (co-MVPs) – New Orleans Pelicans
Never has there ever been co-MVPs in the NBA. It’s still a long shot to happen now, but if it were to happen, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis would be the perfect recipients. Boogie and The Brow have led the New Orleans Pelicans to a 6-5 starting record with a missing Rajon Rondo and a weak team. While the Pelicans have made attempts to get role players, it is the play of Davis and Cousins that lead the team to early victories over Cleveland and the Pacers, both playoff teams last year. Davis is averaging 28.4 points per game and 12.8 rebounds per game. Cousins, on the other hand, is averaging 28.9 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.
New Orleans has two players in the top ten in scoring per game and two of the top five in rebounds per game. The dynamic duo is putting in the work to be named the NBA’s first ever co-MVPs.
3. Kyrie Irving – Boston Celtics
Everyone knew Kyrie Irving could ball. But, it was because he played on the same court as LeBron James, right? Wrong. After the drama-filled summer that had Irving landing in Boston with Gordon Hayward, the Boston Celtics looked to have a disaster on their hands after Hayward went down in the first game with the horrible injury to his ankle that will have him out the remainder of the season. But, Uncle Drew has to get the work in. Irving and head coach Brad Stevens has the Celtics on a ten game win streak and in the driver’s seat in the Eastern Conference.
If Harden missing Chris Paul helps his MVP case, then Irving and the Celtics missing Hawyward all season means even more for Irving’s case. 22.3 points and 5.7 assists per game doesn’t hurt either.
2. Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks
When the New York Knicks responded to San Antonio’s interest in Kristaps Porzingis in asking for Kawhi Leonard in return, people laughed. New York currently holds the last laugh. Porzingis looks like franchise material after all. Moving on from Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony turns out to be the best thing for Porzingis’ career.
One season removed from their departure and The Unicorn is averaging an astounding 30 points per game. The Knicks sitting at sixth in the East. For a team that went 31-51 last season, the Porzingis-led Knicks are looking to blow by that record have legitimate shot at making the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
Who else has put on a better show this year than Giannis Atentokounmpo? The Greek Freak has pieced together an incredible highlight reel of posturing dunks, phenomenal blocks, and scoring points by the truckload. Greek Freak is currently sitting at 9.8 rebounds and an eye-popping 31.9 points per game.
Antetokounmpo is the most explosive player the NBA has seen since Kobe Bryant. He averaged 22.9 points last year, so we are looking at Greek Freak’s best season yet. Let’s not forget when Kobe was issuing goals over Twitter for players before the season started.
Still waiting for my challenge.. @kobebryant
— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) August 24, 2017
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) August 27, 2017