We’re experiencing some historic individual starts to this NBA season from many of the league’s top stars.
Russell Westbrook became the first player in league history to record 100 points, 30 rebounds, and 30 assists through the first three games of a season.
James Harden has become the first player in league history to have at least 24 points and 12 assists in six straight games.
DeMar DeRozan is the first player to score 30 points in 8 of his first 9 games of the season since Michael Jordan in 1986-87.
Anthony Davis became the tenth player in NBA history to record 300 points and 100 rebounds in the team’s first ten games of the season.
Aside from those incredible feats, you have the likes of reigning MVP Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, and of course, LeBron James — all of whom are also off to their own impressive starts and are on course to be eligible for the MVP conversation.
Health, pace, and success are what separate the top MVP contenders as the 2016-17 season progresses. The case for Russell Westbrook is reliant on his ability to sustain his insane production and keeping the Thunder in playoff contention. Someone like Anthony Davis’ case is much harder to stand on because of his team’s struggles. James Harden’s case thus far is probably even more compelling than his 2014-15 campaign, and he’ll be a top contender again if the Rockets can finish as a top-five seed in the West.
With health on their side, we’re going to have a nice crop of wild cards for MVP this season. Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving are my favorites as early wild card candidates. They’re all catalyst players on successful playoff teams, as is DeMar DeRozan, who so far is forcing his way into the early conversation.
People seem to think that Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant don’t have a chance at competing for MVP because of their deference to one another. They’re going to be in the running. They, along with LeBron James, are still the elephants in the room for the MVP race. You won’t be able to avoid the body of work they present this season, and you know that their teams are going to thrive.
The early candidates for 2016-17 NBA MVP is an explosive mix. The top contenders will presumably thin out as we carry on throughout the season.