We’re just a couple of weeks into this 2017-18 NBA season, but there are already some players that are making a strong case to win this year's Most Valuable Player award based on their individual performance and impact on their respective squads.
Of course, it’s really early to make predictions and some of the hot starts some teams have had don’t seem to be quite sustainable throughout the entire campaign, especially considering this year’s preseason was a couple of weeks shorter than the usual, so some of the contenders still need to shake off some rust.
According to Basketball Reference, we’ve got some pretty unusual MVP candidates so far this season, with regular players like Kawhi Leonard (due to injury), James Harden, Kevin Durant, Karl-Anthony Towns and LeBron James being left out of the race so far.
As we said before, most of this is pretty likely to change in the upcoming months, but even though, today we’re going to give some recognition to the guys that have played lights out to begin the campaign, naming the way too early top 10 MVP candidates.
10. Otto Porter
Even though he’s not going to win the MVP award this season, Otto Porter has become a prime candidate to take home the Most Improved Player silverware home, as the former Georgetown product is averaging career highs in pretty much every stat.
Porter has been filling the stat sheet on a nightly basis, averaging 2.7 steals per game to go along with 18.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2 assists per game in over 55% from the floor and 51% from long range.
9. Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon desperately needed to start this year strong, as he was looking more and more like one of the biggest busts in the last couple of drafts, and after a very harsh offseason training both physically and mentally, Gordon hasn’t missed a beat and has delivered since day one.
The power forward has thrived and shown some of his playmaking skills, while also being able to consistently connect with his jump shot, one of the biggest flaws of his game during his first couple of seasons shooting 54/59/73 so far with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 2.4 dimes per game.
8. Evan Fournier
Another very unlikely player to take home the prize is Gordon’s teammate, Evan Fournier, as the Frenchman is on a roll right now and is one of the main reasons why the Orlando Magic has gotten off to such a terrific start of the season under Frank Vogel’s second year in command.
The guard/forward has posted very nice averages of 22 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.4 steals with just 2 turnovers per game in 33.1 minutes, shooting over 54% from the floor and almost 56% from three-point range, connecting in 2.9 make from beyond the arc per contest so far.
7. Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin made a very hard decision to stay put at the Staples Center since Chris Paul decided to join forces with James Harden at Houston, becoming the team’s franchise player and the most skilled guy on the floor, and so far he has lived up to the task to carry most of the load.
Griffin is currently averaging 23.3 points to go along with 8.3 boards and an impressive 4.3 helpers per game, as well as shooting a very respectable 42.4% from three in over 5.5 attempts per game, carrying the Clippers to a very good start of the season despite all the new incorporations Doc Rivers made this prior offseason.
6. DeMarcus Cousins
Everytime he sets foot on the floor, DeMarcus Cousins makes sure that nobody ever doubts his desire to win and carry the New Orleans Pelicans to the postseason to play his first playoff game ever, even taking matters into his own hands when Anthony Davis was forced to be sidelined.
Cousins is really improving his playmaking abilities and has proven to be a very willing passer more than ever, demonstrating that he’s desperate to win and it’s tired of waiting for things to just happen for him. So far, he’s averaging 29.4 points and 13.6 rebounds to go along with 5.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.7 blocks per game.
5. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis has become a regular name when we’re talking about the MVP race, although the lack of team success could be the biggest problem on his chances despite being a player on the top level for a couple of straight seasons now.
Davis has really played well alongside DeMarcus Cousins, but it feels like his 27.7 points. 12.5 boards, 2 assists, 1.3 steals and 2 blocks per game in 54% from the floor and 41% from three-point aren’t going to be enough to take New Orleans to the promise land.
4. Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker is having yet another very good season and he’s single-handedly led the Charlotte Hornets for 4 years straight now, being one of the best players in the league that nobody really ever talks about despite his very, very good numbers.
The Hornets aren’t a good team and other than Kemba and Dwight Howard, they don’t have anybody capable to actually lead the team to a playoff run, but still, what the former UConn point guard is doing is extremely remarkable. Through 7 games, Kemba has averaged 24.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.4 dimes per game, some Kyrie-esque numbers, if you ask me.
3. Russell Westbrook
The reigning MVP is currently number three in this year’s ladder, as he’s had to sacrifice a lot of touches on offense to make room for newcomers Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, but that hasn’t stopped him from posting sick lines and triple doubles as he was just taking a walk in the park.
So far, Westbrook is almost averaging a triple-double once again after that impressive run the past season, posting averages of 20.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 12.2 assists per game to go along with 1.5 steals, also being extremely consistent from the floor and proving he’s more than willing to give up shots to make the Thunder a better team.
2. Stephen Curry
The two time MVP is now number two in this year’s run, after some sick shooting performances that seem to be impressive even measured by Stephen Curry standards, although the Golden State Warriors have gotten to a very shaky start of the season so far.
Still, it seems like Curry’s done with letting Kevin Durant take most of the shots in the team, and that’s why he’s stepped up this year to average over 28 points per contest with 4.5 rebounds, 6.3 dimes and 1.6 steals per game.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
And the most likely guy to take home the award so far definitely has to be Giannis Antetokounmpo, as the Greek Freak has been completely unstoppable ever since the opening night’s jump ball, improving even more than he did the prior campaign.This youngster is just getting scarier by the day and when he starts connecting his jump shots on a consistent basis, he’s going to become the best basketball player on the planet.
Drawing a lot of compliments and positive attention from his peers and former colleagues, Giannis is currently averaging 34.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2 steals while shooting an absurd 63% despite averaging over 21 shots per game, having a 90.3% chance to win the award this season.