This NBA season has had many breakout players and it has affected the shape of the league. For many years in the NBA, there have been the same players names in the MVP race and the same arguments for who should win and why. This season is different. There are more names to argue and many new faces in the argument. The NBA season is still just beginning but as most teams have played about 20 games, that means we are a quarter way through the season. With that being said, it is never to early to look at the MVP race and who is leading and who is not far behind.
7) Bradley Beal
Yes, the Washington Wizards are 7-13. Yes, they are 12th in the East. It does not matter how bad they are. Bradley Beal’s work this this year can not go unnoticed, as he averaging 28.7 PPG on 47% field goal percentage. He is the main reason why the Wizards are currently 3rd overall in the NBA in PPG, averaging 119 PPG. Bradley Beal has been one of the best shooting guards in the league since John Wall got hurt, and he is loving the spotlight. As a player Bradley Beal has improved tremendously since he has been the leader and put the Wizards on his back and done what he can to win. Beal is shooting 35% from three and is putting up 8 threes a game. Beal is one of the most explosive players in the league and can go and drop 40 when he needs too. With Bradley Beal, the Wizards will never be the worst team in the league and the fans will always have something to stay positive on. He is a huge part of the team and without him they would not be as competitive as they are now. Just tonight the Wizards beat the 76ers, so they can be competitive on days they play to their potential, and Bradley Beal is a huge part of that and what they can do.
6) Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is not higher on this list because of one reason alone. Load Management. He has sat out six games already in the year due to it, and it is already known he will continue to rest throughout the year. The Clippers are currently 16-6, with Kawhi they are 13-3, and without they are 3-3. Leonard is averaging 25 PPG, 5 APG, and 8 RPG. These are not unordinary numbers for Kawhi either. Although, he is also shooting a career low in percentages, shooting 43% from the field and shooting 31% from three. These are extremely low for Leonard, as he is known for his efficient scoring and spot up shooting for his size. He is again having an elite year on the defensive side, as he is in the 80% percentile or above for his position in block %(1.2%), steal %(2.6%), foul %(1.9%). He is one of the best defenders in the league and has been for years, and that helps his team stay on the winning side of the ball. His off ball presence is powerful as he brings energy and smart play to the court. Many players do not offer that and that is why Leonard’s name will continue to appear in the MVP conversation.
5) Pascal Siakam
With Kawhi Leonard’s departure from Toronto, Pascal Siakam is thriving. He had a breakout season last year under Kawhi Leonard’s belt, and he is now blossoming into the star he can be. We all knew the potential he had coming into this season, but he exceeded all expectations and is leading this Toronto Raptors team to a 15-6 record. In the East, that is the 4 seed and they are only 3.5 games out of first place. Siakam is averaging 25.1 PPG, 4 APG, and 8.6 RPG. The numbers themselves are not mind blowingly spectacular, but this is a MVP award. Without Siakam, the Raptors would be a lottery team or maybe sneak in to the 8th seed at best.Yes, they have great roll players, who will go out nightly and do what they need to do, but Siakam is the star of this team and leading them to the best of his ability. He is shooting fairly efficient as well, shooting 46.7% from the field and 38.4% from three. Both of those stats are improvements from last year. Pascal Siakam will continue to get better as the season goes, as he is young, and he is still learning how to fill the leading roll for the Raptors. This year probably will not be an MVP year for Siakam, but withing the next few years, he will continue to be in the conversation.
4) Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Bucks are 1st in the East and tied with the Lakers for the best record in the league at 19-3. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reason for that, as he is the only player on the Bucks averaging more than 20 PPG, as he is averaging 31. In the past 10 games, they are 10-0 and all of that can go on Giannis. Without him and his special offensive play, the Bucks would not be a championship contender and a low seeded playoff team. He is shooting 56% from the field and shoots 31% from three which is the highest it has been since his rookie season. Giannis is also shooting 59.1% from the free throw line. If he shot the same percentage as James Harden, he would be averaging 34.1 PPG (via instagram-@nbadistrict) . He has consistently been trying to improve his three, jump shot, and free throws, and if he continues to do that through out the season, he is a top three contender for MVP and arguably is right now. It is hard to argue why Giannis is not top three, but easy to argue why the other are above him. Giannis is a special young player and making a Bucks team an automatic contender. If the Bucks and Giannis keep this play up then Giannis can easily win back to back MVP’s.
3) James Harden
James Harden is averaging 39.5 PPG so far this season. He has three 50+ point games and six 40+ point games. He is averaging a career high in free throws per games with 13.1. He is scoring in every way on the court and doing it at a historical level. Although, he is shooting a career low in three point percentage at 34% which still is not horrible, he is shooting 43% from the field as well. Sure, he is not scoring as efficiently as he has in previous years, but this year he is doing it on a whole new spectrum. He is also averaging 8 assists on top of his scoring which is impressive. With his assists, he has an assist percentage of 39.1% which is the lowest it has been in four years because he is focusing on scoring. The Rockets are currently 14-7 as the season continues to march on and they hope to keep the 4th seed in the West. If James Harden can continue to keep up his historic scoring or even within 5 PPG of it, then the Rockets will continue to win games and be a playoff team and even championship contender.
2) Lebron James
Lebron James is 34 years old and having one of the best seasons of his career. Sure, he is not scoring as many points but he is making up for it with averaging a career high in assist, averaging 10.9 APG. He now has Anthony Davis to take a big chunk of the offensive role for him but even with AD averaging 26 PPG, Lebron is still finding a way to average 25.7 PPG. Lebron has his highest usage rate of his career at 36.9% which is crazy for his age. The big stat to point out is the percentage of made shots he has assisted on for his team when he is on the court. He is assisting on 49.3% of all the shots when he is on the court. To put that into perspective, at Chris Paul’s highest assist percentage, he was assisting on 51.2% of shots. One of the best passers ever to play the game. Lebron James is creating shots for this Lakers team at an elite level, and he is a huge reason they are doing what they are doing. The Lakers are 19-3, and they are the best team in the Western Conference right now. Without Lebron, they would be a early playoff exit and at best a 6 seed. Adding Lebron to the mix immediately makes them favorites to come out the West and a championship contender.
1) Luka Dončić
Luka Dončić is quickly becoming the new face of the NBA. He is a complete player. He is a decent defender and an elite offensive talent. He is averaging 30.6 PPG, 10, and 10. He is 20 years old an averaging a 30 point triple double. It is insane the level of basketball he is at already in his young career and he has by far been the best player this season. The Dallas Mavericks are 15-6 and just beat Lebron and the LA Lakers, who are currently 17-3. Luka is the face of Dallas, and he is just beginning his NBA career. The second highest scoring player on this Dallas team is Porzingis, with 17 PPG. Luka is carrying this Mavericks team and doing it good. The Mavericks are a very well rounded team and very deep. They are a team that no one else wants to go up against and if you take Luka away from the equation, the Mavericks are no longer even in playoff contention. Luka is the most valuable player to his team and has been the best player so far this season.