We are a little over a month into the NBA season and it has been a fun one thus far, to say the least. You have a lot of teams surprising like the Rockets leading the Western Conference or the Celtics dominating their play so far in the Eastern Conference after a slow start. How about the early NBA MVP race?
Statistically speaking, James Harden is the player who checks off all of the typical statistical categories for a player looking to win this individual title. Harden leads the league in points per game and assists per game while shooting 45 percent from the field, 40 percent from downtown, and 86 percent from the foul line. Through 17 games, he has produced his second-highest offensive rating at 121 and has led the Rockets to the best record in the Western Conference at 13-4. Most of those games were without Chris Paul, and you have to credit Harden some for what Eric Gordon has turned into this season.
Overall, Harden has been the best statistical player thus far and is once against doing crazy things on the basketball court. He was worthy of an MVP last season but was a little overlooked by Westbrook’s triple-double season. He has a real chance to run away with the title if he continues to propel the Rockets to a top seed in the West.
You just can’t say enough good things about Kyrie Irving this season. When he took all of the heat for wanting to be traded out of Cleveland, people just were not sure what type of Kyrie Irving they’d see in Boston. Once Gordon Hayward went down with the gruesome injury to his ankle, people were then really unsure how Kyrie would lead the Celtics forward.
You could say he has answered the critics.
He’s lead Boston to winning 16 straight after losing their first two games. Irving has been the best player in the NBA in clutch situations (when the game is within five points in the final five minutes of regulation or overtime) this season. Kyrie has scored 65 points, dished out 10 assists, and has a plus-minus of plus-40 in 38 clutch minutes.
Kyrie Irving has just been an efficient basketball player. He’s shot 46.8% and has been there time and time again in clutch situations for Boston.
Speaking of efficiency, we have to talk about the Greek Freak when it comes to that word. He leads the NBA in field goals made within 10 feet (8.9 per game) and is shooting 73.9% from that range, which is good for third among players who attempt at least eight such shots a game. Giannis has shown to be much more aggressive than in the past as he is shooting a career-high 8.4 free throws per game. Averaging 29.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.9 blocks, 55.2% shooting, Giannis has once again put himself into the league’s conversation for the most coveted individual award. To him, it will be a matter of team success this year for Giannis as the Bucks are sitting at a .500 record of 8-8. Individually, though, he has been off the charts.
Kevin Durant has been stellar this season. He has produced the second-best net rating in the NBA and has produced a plus-minus of plus-9.7. The Warriors are nearly 10 points better with Durant on the court than on the bench. Steph Curry is the player that Golden State technically runs their offense through, but Durant is a much better defender, better rebounder due to size, and has passing skills that are right there with Steph.
A statistical category that Durant has been filling this season blocks. He’s averaging a career-high 2.2 per game, .6 more than his previous high. Overall, Durant will probably be battling Steph Curry for the MVP and it may be how he shows up on the defensive end that could propel.