The NBA season is quite long, but this season has been fantastic from the get-go. And it is only going to get better.
As expected James Harden, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kyrie Irving have essentially carried their teams. Victor Oladipo and Joel Embiid have been one of the many surprises this season and both have moved up in the fourth edition of my MVP power rankings.
Klay Thompson is the only newcomer to the top-20 as he replaces the injured John Wall. Wall has missed the past four games with a knee injury and is expected to be sidelined at least another week.
So, without further adieu here are my MVP rankings for Week 8 . All stats are up-to-date as Saturday, Dec. 2.
Honorable Mention (no particular order)
Aaron Gordon, Carmelo Anthony, Andrew Wiggins (new), Jimmy Butler (new), Ben Simmons (new), Blake Griffin
No. 25 through No. 21
25. Kevin Love (up from honorable mention) 24. Nikola Jokic (no movement), 23. Kemba Walker (down 2) 22. John Wall (down 2) 21, Andre Drummond (up 2)
Top 20 Candidates For The NBA MVP Award
20. CJ McCollum, (Down 5). 21.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, 44.6% FG, 45.7% 3PT
McCollum, who helped lead the Blazers to a huge comeback victory over Wizards (11/25), has failed to reach the 20-point mark in his last three games which is his longest stretch of the season. The Lehigh product has scored at least 20 points 13 times this season.
A big reason for his scoring woes is that he has struggled shooting the ball over the last three games. McCollum is shooting only 19-of-57 (33.3%) from the floor and 4-of-17 (23.5%) from beyond the arc during this recent stretch. He has been held to below 37.0% from the field and fewer than two triples in four of his last six games.
19. Klay Thompson, (Up 5): 20.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 50.0% FG, 46.8% 3PT
Thompson has cracked the top-20 of the rankings for the first time this season. Thompson is having the best season of his career despite the fact that he is averaging the fewest points per game over his last four seasons.
Thompson, known for his sharpshooting abilities, is knocking down shots at an unprecedented rate. He has registered a 60.8% shooting efficiency rate and a 62.0% true shooting percentage, both of which are by far a career-high in both categories for the seventh-year pro. He also has grabbed a personal-best 4.3 rebounds a game.
Thompson has tallied 20 or more points in five straight games as he has made at least three triples in each of those contests. He is averaging 24.2 points on 54.9% shooting from the floor and 51.2% from beyond the arc during this five-game stretch.
Thompson is second in the league in 3pters (80) and fourth in 3pt%. He also is ninth in field goal makes and ninth in effective field goal percentage.
18. Bradley Beal, (Down 8): 22.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 45.7% FG, 37.2% 3PT
Beal’s numbers have plummeted this past week with John Wall (knee) out. Beal was held to his two lowest games since tallying a season-low four points against the Warriors (10/27) with 10 and 8 point efforts by Detroit and Minnesota.
In the four most recent games without the all-star point guard, Beal is producing 16.2 points along with 2.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists. He is shooting just 37.9% from the floor (22-58) and 36.8% (7-19) on 3-point attempts. He also has turned the ball over 11 times.
17. Paul George, (No movement): 21.4 PPG, 2.6 APG, 5.9 RPG, 43.5% FG, 41.4% 3PT
George continues to demonstrate why he is one of the best two-way players in the league. Even when he struggles offensively, like he did against Dallas last Saturday, he will contribute somehow. In the 97-81 loss to the Mavericks, George finished with just two points, on 1-of-12 shooting, which was his lowest point total since the end of the 2014-15 campaign. However, he doled out a season-high 10 assists and grabbed six rebounds while also coming up with four steals.
George rebounded from the poor shooting performance against Dallas with 22 and 36 point efforts in his other two contests this past week. The 27-year-old’s 36 point night came in a much needed win for the Thunder over the Timberwolves on Dec. 1. George made 10-of-21 shots including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc versus the Wolves. He also had nine assists, four rebounds and three blocks.
George, who is playing the seventh most minutes in the league, leads the league in steals per game (2.6) and total steals. He is also is fourth in 3-point makes (67) as he is draining a career-high 3.2 triples a contest.
16. Russell Westbrook, (No movement): 22.0 PPG, 9.7 APG, 9.1 RPG, 40.0% FG, 32.5% 3PT
Westbrook has posted six straight double-doubles. Although he had his five-game streak of at least 20 points snapped against Minnesota as he was just 6-of-21 from the field and 0-for-8 from the 3-point line.
Westbrook has continued to up his usage as he is averaging 23.8 shots a game, making 41.2% of those attempts, and 9.6 assists of the last five games. The new Thunder leading scorer, surpassing both George and Carmelo Anthony, is also producing 28.2 points a game, 10.0 points, 3.0 steals and 5.7 turnovers a game over the five game-stretch.
Westbrook currently ranks second in the league in steals and sixth in assists.
15. Kristaps Porzingis, (Down 4): 25.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 46.5% FG, 40.2% 3PT
Porzingis had a tough week as he struggled with an ankle injury and is now dealing with an illness that could cause him to miss Sunday’s game against the Magic. The 22-year-old power forward has been limited to just 36 minutes over the last two games after sitting out the previous contest.
The 7-3 Latvian has the second highest usage percentage in the NBA at 34.2. He also leads the league in blocks (40), is fifth in points per game and ninth in free throws made (111).
14. Karl-Anthony Towns, (Up 3): 20.3 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 53.5% FG, 35.8% 3PT
Towns has bounced back from a few substandard performances the previous week to put together a strong week. Towns has scored 20 or more points in three of his last four games as he averaged over 16 shots per game. Prior to this recent stretch, the 7-footer had gone five games without a 20-point outing as he was attempting about 12 shots a contest.
While Towns had a strong game with 23 points, 9-of-17 shooting, and nine rebounds against the Thunder (Dec. 1), it snapped a string of six straight double-doubles. Towns, who has collected 18 double-doubles in 23 games, has not hauled in fewer than nine rebounds since Nov. 1.
Towns, who is fifth in minutes played, ranks in the top-10 of the league: field goals (10th), offensive rebounds (10th), defensive rebounds (third) and total rebounds (fourth).
13. Joel Embiid, (Up 3): 23.1 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.7 BPG 48.3% FG
Embiid has six straight double-doubles. He is averaging 25.1 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.8 rebounds while shooting only 42.4% (48-113) from the floor during this stretch.
12. LaMarcus Aldridge (Up 2): 23.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.2 APG, 51.6% FG, 39.5% 3PT
Aldridge really likes home-cooking. The 6-11 power forward pumped in season-highs on consecutive games in wins over Dallas (33 points) and Memphis (41) this past week. Aldridge drained 30-of-43 (63.7%) shot attempts and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc during those two games.
He is now averaging 23.8 points, which is 1.6 more points than he is producing on the road while shooting 53.1% from the field and 47.4% from beyond the arc in 12 games at the AT&T Center.
11. Anthony Davis, (Down 2): 25.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, 57.3% FG, 35.9% 3PT
Davis who is dealing with a groin issue missed Saturday’s game against Portland. Davis has been extremely efficient over his last five appearances as he has made at least 53.8% of his shot attempts during this stretch.
Davis has been at his best in games against some of the top teams in both leagues. He has produced seven double-doubles in 13 games against teams with a .500 or better record. Davis, who had 30 points and 15 rebounds against the Warriors (11/25), is averaging 32.5 points along with 15.0 rebounds while shooting 62.8% from the field in two games against Golden State.
10. DeMarcus Cousins, (Down 3)
25.6 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.5 BPG, 46.0% FG, 32.5% 3PT
Cousins carried the Pelicans, who were without Davis, past the Blazers on Saturday 123-114 as he scored 38 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The 38 points was 6-11 big man’s highest scoring output since putting up a season-high 41 versus the Kings (10/26). Cousins has seven 30-point games this season.
Cousins was 14-of-28 from the floor though just 2-of-7 from beyond the arc versus Portland. The 28 shot attempts were a season-high. He also did not record an assist, the first time that has occurred all season.
9. Damian Lillard, (Up 4)
25.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 6.2 APG, 42.1% FG, 33.1% 3PT
Lillard continues to struggle from beyond the arc, but he had a terrific week overall. Lillard tallied 29 or more points in three of the four games. He also dished out 26 dimes and hauled in 19 caroms.
Lillard, who is shooting a career-low 33.1% from beyond the arc, is on pace to make his fewest treys over the last three seasons. He is currently making 2.4 triples a game though he has had eight games of being limited to 0 or 1. The 27-year-old point guard ranks 74th in NBA history with 1,101 career trifectas.
8. DeMar DeRozan, (Up 4)
23.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.7 APG, 48.1% FG, 28.1 % 3PT
DeRozan is stroking the ball the best he has in his career. DeRozan, who had his streak of consecutive double-figure scoring games snapped at 113, is averaging a personal-best 1.33 points per shot while recording an effective field goal percentage of (50.3%).
DeRozan increased his scoring average this past week thanks to a 30-point performance against Toronto (11/29) and a 26-point effort versus Indiana (12/1). He has five 30-point games and has made over 60% of his shots on four occasions.
7. Victor Oladipo, (Up 1)
23.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, 47.9% FG, 43.3% 3PT
Oladipo is still producing at a career level. He tallied his third 30-point game in a loss to the Raptors on Friday and averaged 27.0 points a game in his last three games. He also averaged 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 dimes while shooting 58.9% (33-56) from the field and 36.3% (8-22) from beyond the arc during this three-game period.
But what has been most impressive is his commitment on the defensive end. Oladipo registered nine blocks and 10 steals this past week.
6. Kevin Durant, (No movement)
24.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.7 APG, 2.1 BPG, 52.7% FG, 43.2% 3PT
Durant has appeared in just six of the Warriors last 10 games as he has been dealing with an ankle injury.However, Durant has in played the last two contests though he was tossed in the win over Orlando. He still put up quality numbers -- 25 points, seven rebounds, four blocks -- in 30 minutes against the Magic.
Durant averaged 27.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 6.0 assists while shooting 22-of-39 (56.4%) from the field the past two games.
Durant ranks ninth in the league in points per game, third in blocks, second in points per game and 10th in true shooting percentage.
5. Steph Curry, (No movement)
26.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.5 APG, 46.4% FG, 36.9% 3PT
For the second straight week, Curry has increased his production despite dealing with a hand contusion. Curry has scored at least 20 points in seven of his last eight games where he also posted two double-doubles during this stretch. Over the last eight games, the 29-year-old sharpshooter is producing 27.3 points along with 6.3 assists and 6.1 rebounds while shooting 46.0% from the floor.
Curry is currently averaging his second most points of his career, 0.7 points more than last when he tallied 25.3 points a game, as he is scoring at 1.46 points per shot. A big reason for the increase in productivity is that he is attempting a career-high 6.5 free throws while making 94.1% of those tries.
Curry ranks sixth in points and fourth in points per game. He is also fourth in free throws and second in free throw percentage (94.1%).
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, (No movement)
29.4 PPG,10.3 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.8 BPG, 54.7% FG, 25.7% 3PT
Antetokounmpo had a pretty consistent past week, tallying at least 20 points and five assists in each of his four games while also posting two double-doubles. He averaged 28.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.3 blocks during the stretch.
Antetokounmpo, who got to the foul line a lot, shot 52.2% from the field and 75.0% from the charity stripe (39-of-52) for the week.
3. Kyrie Irving, (No movement)
23.4 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 48.2 % FG, 37.2% PT
Irving continues to be the most efficient he has been in his career. Irving is averaging 1.32 points a game as he has produced a career-best 54.2 effective field goal percentage. He is shooting a career-high 48.2% from the field and turning the ball over a career-low 2.1 times a game.
Boston is the first team to 20 wins and Irving is a major reason why. The 25-year-old is averaging 32.8 points over his last eight contests, which he has made at least 50% of his shots in seven of those contests. He has also made five or more 3-pointers three times and is shooting 51.2% (21-of-41) from beyond the arc during this recent stretch.
Irving, who has the eighth highest usage percentage in the league, ranks seventh in field goal makes. He is also 10th in PER, eighth in offensive win shares and ninth in defensive win share. In addition, Irving has the fifth best value over replacement (1.5).
2. LeBron James, (no movement)
28.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.2 BPG, 58.4% FG, 41.3% 3PT
James keeps rolling along. James had another super week and increased his season totals in points, assists and field goal percentage. The King collected a double-double in each of his four games to extend his streak to five.
Overall, he posted 109 points along with 33 rebounds and 36 assists this past week. The 32-year-old added seven steals and four blocks for good measure. James also shot 43-for-71 (56.1%) from the field and 7-of-19 (36.8%) from beyond the arc.
While all of his numbers are out of this world, what has really made this season special is his production in the fourth quarter. James has essentially carried the Cavs down the stretch in the majority of their wins. He scored the final 13 points in Cleveland’s victory over Memphis on Saturday, marking the fifth time he has done so in his career.
For the season, James is contributing a league-best 9.3 points while shooting 56.7% from the field (68-127) and 38.2% (13-34) from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter. The 68 made field goals are only behind the 74 he makes during the opening quarter and his 11 triples are also second best.
James leads the league in clutch situations, producing 5.5 points while shooting 61.4% from the field.
1. James Harden, (No movement)
31.1 PPG, 9.8 APG, 5.2 RPG, 45.1% FG, 40.3% 3PT
Harden is the first player to be No. 1 in these rankings twice as he moved up to the top spot last week. The 29-year-old continued his phenomenal start as he compiled 103 points, 20 rebounds and 28 assists over his three-game week. He was also 33-of-69 (47.8%) from the field, including 17-of-38 (44.7%) from beyond the arc, and 20-of-25 (80%) from the free throw line.
With those performances, Harden was able to increase his season average in rebounds, shooting percentage and 3-point percentage. While also maintaining the exact same points and assists average.
Harden, who is first in usage percentage, leads the league in scoring and assists. He is also first in three-point makes (97), first in free throws (168) and third in field goal makes (200).