The NBA season is quite long, but this season has been fantastic from the get go. And it is only going to get better.
Being two months into the season, we are seeing the cream of the NBA rise to the top while some players who got off to a fantastic start are starting to level off. James Harden, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Victor Oladipo and Kyrie Irving are still carrying their teams. Kevin Durant, with Steph Curry out, has picked up his production. As has Jimmy Butler and Chris Paul.
So, without further adieu here are the fifth edition of MVP rankings. All stats are up-to-date December 20.
New Entries: Chris Paul (No. 23), Kyle Lowry (Honorable Mention)
Dropped Out of Consideration: Aaron Gordon, Carmelo Anthony, Andrew Wiggins, Blake Griffin, Nikola Jokic (24), Kemba Walker, Ben Simmons
Honorable Mention: Andre Drummond (down from 21) and Kyle Lowry
25. John Wall (-2 spots)
24. Paul George (- 7 spots)
23. Chris Paul (up from Honorable Mention)
22. Kevin Love (+ 3 spots )
21. Jimmy Butler (up from Honorable Mention)
20. Jimmy Butler, (up from Honorable Mention):
Butler has been tremendous in December, topping the 30-point mark four times and averaging 25.8 points a game while shooting 49.4% for the month.
19. CJ McCollum, +1 spot:
McCollum, who has topped the 20-point mark in five straight games, is producing a personal-best 4.3 rebounds per 40 minutes as he is rebounding at a 6.0% rate, which is a career-high.
18. Klay Thompson, +1 spot:
Thompson, who is producing a career-best 61.1% true shooting percentage, picked up his second double-double of the season in Monday’s win over the Lakers -- it is the first time in his career that Thompson has multiple double-doubles in a season.
17. Joel Embiid, -4 spots:
Philadelphia is 1-6 without Embiid, who has missed four of the last six games.
16. Damian Lillard, -7 spots:
Lillard, who is averaging a season-best 7.1 assists in December, has posted a double-double in each of his last two games to give him five for the season.
15. LaMarcus Aldridge, -3 spots:
Aldridge is producing career-highs with 26.8 points per 40 minutes and a 24.66 PER.
14. Anthony Davis, -3 spots:
Davis, who has two double-doubles in his last three games, is producing a 64.8% true shooting percentage and a 10.2 assist rate -- both career-highs.
13. Bradley Beal, +5 spots:
Beal, who needs one more double-double to tie his career-high with three, is averaging a career-best with 26.8 points per 40 minutes in points while his 4.0 dimes per 40 ties a personal best.
12. Russell Westbrook, +4 spots:
Westbrook is averaging a triple-double for the month but is still struggling shooting the ball.
11. Kristaps Porzingis, +4 spots:
Porzingis, who has missed four games in December including the last two contests (knee), is averaging 32.0 points per 40 minutes with a 57.1 true shooting percentage.
Top 10 Candidates For The NBA MVP Award
10. Karl-Anthony Towns, +4 spots
20.5 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 52.0 FG%, 38.3 3PT%
Towns is compiling 24.2 points, 12.0 caroms and 3.8 assists while shooting 49.4% from the field and 44.0% from long distance over his last five contests.The Minnesota center has scored 20-plus in four of his last six games and has collected at least 10 rebounds in nine of his last 11 games. For the season, he is shooting a career-high 38.3% from beyond the arc while making a personal-best 1.4 treys a game.
9. DeMarcus Cousins, No movement
26.2 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.5 BPG, 1.5 SPG, 47.3 FG%, 35.7 3PT%
Cousins has had a monster last six games, for that matter a fantastic month of December. Over the last six games, the 27-year-old has scored a minimum of 23 points in each game and compiled four double-doubles. During this stretch, Cousins had a 38-point game (Dec. 6) and a 40-point game (Dec. 8) during this stretch. In December, he is producing 28.2 points and 11.7 rebounds while producing six double-doubles and shooting 49.7% from the field as 47.1% from beyond the arc.
Cousins is in the process in setting career-bests in player rating (47.4), scoring efficiency (1.37) and shooting efficiency ( 53.4%). As well as assists per 40 minutes (5.8), true shooting percentage (58.0%), assist percentage (15.5%) and turnover ratio (15.9).
8. DeMar DeRozan, No movement
23.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 5.0 APG, 48.4 FG%, 25.0 3PT%
DeRozan has upped his offensive productivity in December, mainly by getting to the line and doling out dimes. The former USC Trojan has topped the 30-point mark in two of his last three games to give him three such games in his last nine contests. DeRozan is averaging 25.4 points along with 5.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds in the month of December. He is attempting 10.4 free throws a game this month, which is over four attempts more than last season
In advance stats, DeRozan is setting career-highs with 5.8 assists per 40 minutes a well as an assist ratio of 17.6 and a 57.0% true shooting percentage.
7. Steph Curry, -2 spots
26.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 6.6 APG, 47.3% FG, 38.1% 3PT
Curry has missed the last four games and could be out until at least Christmas with his ankle injury.
The 29-year-old is scoring at his highest rate with 1.49 points per shot as he is getting to the foul line at a career-best 41.2% rate. He is producing a turnover at 9.8% rate which is the lowest of his career.
Curry leads the league in offensive rating (118.9), is fourth in net rating (+16.3) and 10th in PIE (16.2).
6. Victor Oladipo, +1 spot
24.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 48.2% FG, 42.8% 3PT
Oladipo upped his scoring average by more than one point, which is a dramatic increase at this point of the year, as he has scored at least 26 points in six of eight games, averaging 29.7 points in December. He is putting up career numbers across the board. Perhaps the most impressive has been his efficiency as Oladipo is producing 1.32 points per shot with a shooting efficiency of 53.3%.
In advance stats, Oladipo is producing a career-bests with 28.9 points per 40 minutes along with 6.3 boards per 40 minutes. He is also grabbing a rebound at a career-high rate of 8.9%.
5. Kevin Durant, +1 spot
26.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 5.4 APG, 2.2 BPG, 51.5 FG%, 40.4 PT%
Durant has been an animal since over the last five games, tallying 28 or more points along with nine rebounds, two blocks and five assists in each contest. He has scored at least 35 points in four of those games while producing three double-doubles and a triple-double during the stretch.
KD is producing over 30 points per 40 minutes for a fourth consecutive season. His 6.3 assists per 40 minutes is a personal best.
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, No movement
29.7 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.5 BPG, 1.9 SPG, 54.5% FG, 27.1% 3PT
Giannis has continued his stellar play over the last two weeks. He’s scored at least 25 points in eight straight games and at least 20 in 19 straight. In addition, the 23-year-old has produced nine double-doubles and is averaging 11.0 boards over his last 16 contests.
Antetokounmpo was terrific in the Bucks victory over the Cavs on Dec. 19, producing his 15th double-double with 27 points, 14 caroms and eight rebounds. He was 8-of-14 from the field and 11-of-12 from the free throw stripe.
The Greek Freak has been dominant in three games against Cleveland this season, averaging 33.7 points along with 10.3 boards and 6.3 dimes while shooting an out of the world 68.4% from the field.
Antetokounmpo leads the league in two-point field goals and minutes per game (38.0). He also ranks second in points per game, PER (31.18) and PIE (20.5).
3. Kyrie Irving, No movement
24.4 PPG, 4.9 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.30 SPG, 49.3 FG%, 40.5 3PT%
Irving has kept his amazing offensive pace going the last few weeks, thanks to the tremendous shooting. Irving has scored 30 or more points in three of his last four games and is averaging 26.9 points and 3.2 triples a game while shooting 52.0% from the field and 47.5% from beyond the arc in December.
The former Duke Blue Devil is having his most efficient season ever. His 1.34 points per shot and shooting efficiency of 56.1% are career-highs. As is his 30.5 points per 40 minutes, 60.5% true shooting percentage, PER (25.45), and PIE (15.8). In addition, Irving has registered 102.8 defensive rating which is on pace for a career-best.
2. LeBron James, No movement
28.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 9.3 APG, 1.1 BPG, 1.4 SPG, 57.2% FG, 41.1 3PT%
Can’t say enough about how tremendous James has been this year. The King has produced four triple-doubles in his last five games to give him six for the season and 61 for his career.
James, who has topped the 20-point mark in 15 straight games, is averaging 28.6 points, 10.4 assists and 8.5 rebounds in 10 December games. He was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week (Dec. 11-17).
According to advanced metrics, James is having perhaps the best season of his career. He is producing 30.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 9.9 assists per 40 minutes to go along with a true shooting percentage of 65.5%. His 26.5% assist ratio is a career-best while his 12.6% rebound rate is the second highest.
James’ 62.8% shooting efficiency and his rating of 54.90 are career-highs.
1. James Harden, No Movement
31.3 PPG, 9.0 APG, 5.2 RPG, 45.0% FG, 39.2% 3PT
Is Harden about to run away with the MVP? He has been No. 1 in my last three rankings. Harden has scored 21 or more points in each of his last seven games while also picking up a double-double in the last two weeks.
Harden is producing 31.3 points along with 7.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds though more importantly he has turned the ball over just 3.3 times a game this month. He has topped the 20-point mark in 30 straight games (dating back to last year), which breaks Moses Malone’s franchise record of 29 consecutive matches. Harden knocked down his 1,500th career triple in the game against the Bucks on Saturday.
Harden leads the league in scoring, three-point field goals (123), free throws (238), usage, wins shares per 48 minutes, and offensive box plus/minus. The 28-year-old, who has dramatically cut down his turnovers from last year, is setting career-highs in three-point percentage, points per 40 minutes (35.2), PER (30.25) and PIE (19.1).