We are only 10 games into the NBA season, but that hasn’t stopped the game’s biggest stars from showing off their brilliance. Here’s what my MVP ballot would look like if the season ended today:
1. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
It’s rare for a player to win the award back-to-back seasons, but Stephen Curry has undoubtedly been the most valuable player thus far. Leading the league with 33.4 points per game, the greatest shooter in NBA history has taken his game to an even higher level this year. Averaging 21.5 shot attempts, Curry has been more efficient with these extra looks by shooting a career-high 51.7 percent from the field. The baby-faced assassin can do no wrong, and with his team currently 11-0, Curry would win the award as the first unanimous MVP in NBA history.
2. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
Much like last season, James finds himself in unfamiliar territory – in the shadows of another NBA superstar. LeBron has been incredible this season, and is still the greatest player on the planet. Leading his Cavaliers to an 8-2 start despite missing Kyrie Irving, it’s the kind of dominance we have simply come to expect of LeBron. Having already won the award four times, the concept of voter fatigue is one that rings too true with ‘The King.’ However, if he keeps up his current stat line of 27.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.0 steals per game, it would be awfully difficult to resist giving LeBron the award for a fifth time.
3. Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are becoming Blake Griffin’s team. Heading into this season, one might’ve expected Griffin’s teammate, Chris Paul, to be the Clipper in the MVP discussion. However, a groin injury has hampered Paul early in the season, forcing Griffin to pick up the slack. All Griffin has done is average 26.6 points (career-high), 9.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 55.8 percent from the field. No longer simply a dunker, Griffin’s mid-range game and unparalleled athleticism have enabled him to become one of the premiere power forwards in the game. Ranked second in the league in Player Efficiency Rating and playing the best basketball of his five-year career, Griffin is a worthy MVP candidate.
4. Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs
With each passing year, it feels like Kawhi Leonard elevates his game closer to superstardom. Well this year, he has officially arrived. Averaging 21.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals, Leonard is also busy shutting down the opposing team’s best player every night. Leonard is the best defender in the league, and it’s not even close. His combination of length, quickness, strength and instincts is the biggest reason the Spurs are allowing a league-low 90.6 points per game. While Kawhi’s playmaking ability needs to improve (1.6 assists per game), the two-way player is the biggest reason for San Antonio’s 8-2 start. If Leonard keeps up this level of play, he has a legitimate chance to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year this season.
5. Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder
Leading the league with 10.6 assists per game and fifth in scoring at 26.7 points per contest, Russell Westbrook has picked up right where he left off last season. Kevin Durant’s hamstring injury has forced Westbrook to pick up the slack, and the eighth-year point guard has not disappointed. With two triple-doubles on the season and the same tenacity as always, Westbrook will continue to stuff the stat sheets. But just like last year, Oklahoma City will need to be at the top of the Western Conference standings if Westbrook is to have a compelling case for MVP.