We’re just one month 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.
Winning the Most Valuable Player accolade is one of the highest honors a player can get besides winning the NBA Championship, and even though it would be best to become a Champion, getting that kind of personal recognition just has to be something that every player should look up to.
Check NBA Weekly MVP Power Rankings and Top 20 Candidates For The NBA MVP Award.
Note: All stats and game analysis are until Friday, Nov. 24.
Honorable Mention (no particular order)
No. 30 through No. 21
Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Kevin Love, Tyreke Evans, Marc Gasol, Aaron Gordon, Carmelo Anthony
No. 25 through No. 21
25. Blake Griffin, 24. Klay Thompson 23. Andre Drummond, 22. Nikola Jokic, 21. Kemba Walker
Top 20 Candidates For The NBA MVP Award
20. John Wall, (No movement): 20.3 PPG, 9.2 APG, 3.4 RPG, 43.4 FG, 31.7% 3PT
Wall will miss the next two weeks due to inflammation in his knee. Wall had struggled in his two games prior to going off on Charlotte on Wednesday where he tallied 33 points -- on 13-of-26 shooting (50%) -- and doled out 11 dimes for his sixth double-double of the season.The 27-year-old point guard is on pace for 20-some double-doubles for the season. He has not recorded produced fewer than 40 double-doubles since 2013-14.
19. Russell Westbrook, (Down 2): 21.2 PPG, 9.7 APG, 8.8 RPG, 39.7% FG, 29.8% 3PT
Westbrook has upped his scoring production recently, but his shooting numbers are horrendous. Westbrook, who has posted two triple-doubles in his last three games, is shooting a poultry 36.4% from the field and 20.0% from beyond the arc over the last five games. He is averaging 23.8 points along with 10.2 rebounds and 9.6 assists during the same stretch.
18. Karl-Anthony Towns, (Down 9): 20.3 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 53.5% FG, 35.8% 3PT
Towns has struggled the last five games and was complete no-show during the first three-quarters of the Wolves loss to the Heat on Friday. Towns finished with his eighth double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds) in the past nine game but he scored 16 of his 18 in the fourth quarter after the game was decided. The 7-footer has been held to less than 20 points in each of his last five contests, where he has made just 5-of-18 shots (27.7%) from beyond the arc.
17. Paul George, (Down 1): 21.4 PPG, 2.6 APG, 5.9 RPG, 43.5% FG, 41.4% 3PT
George’s numbers are not significantly down from the last rankings though he is averaging just 18.6 points on 39.3% shooting from the field. He has topped the 20-point mark in two of his five games. The 27-year-old picked up his second double-double of the season in the win over the Warriors on the day before Thanksgiving, compiling 20 points along with 11 boards.
Despite his struggles shooting the ball overall, George has made two or more treys in seven straight contests and is averaging 3.3 triples a game while shooting a career-best 41.4% from beyond the arc for the season. He is also getting it done on the defensive end, coming up with 17 thefts over the last four contests.
16. Joel Embiid, (New to rankings): 22.7 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.9 BPG 50.8% FG
Embiid, who had a historic performance against the Lakers (Nov. 15), moved into the top-20 for the first time as the Sixers have won four of five. The 23-year-old center registered four double-doubles in his last five games, producing 28.4 points along with 12.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists during the stretch.
15. CJ McCollum, (No movement): 21.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 46.0% FG, 48.6% 3PT
McCollum bounced back nicely from a dreadful 1-of-14 shooting performance against the 76ers on Wednesday, tallying 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting to go along with five assists in win over Brooklyn on Friday. McCollum, who had his streak of 13 straight games with a 3pter snapped last Friday, has made over 50% of his shot in five of the last seven contests. He has also topped the 20-point mark in three of his last four games.
14. LaMarcus Aldridge, (Down 4): 21.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.2APG, 49.8% FG, 31.0% 3PT
Aldridge looked very sluggish in Wednesday’s loss to the Pelicans, totaling 16 points and four rebounds while also picking up four fouls in 27 minutes. The Spurs’ leading scorer has been held below 20 points five times, and the Spurs are 2-3 in those games.
13. Damian Lillard, (New to rankings): 25.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 6.2 APG, 40.9% FG, 34.2% 3PT
Lillard is starting to heat up again. The 6-3 point guard, who fell out of the top-20 last week, has pumped in 30 points in consecutive games for the first time since when he topped the 30-point plateau on four straight occasions (/Oct. 30-Nov. 5).
More importantly, Lillard may be catching fire from the perimeter as he is 10-of-19 (52.9%) from beyond the arc in his last two contests to bump his shooting percentage to 34.2%. He has made fewer than 33.0% of his 3pt attempts in 8 of 12 games this month. And his shooting efficiency is over 2% below his career average (50.4%)
12. DeMar DeRozan, (Up 1): 24.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.4 APG, 47.8% FG, 30.2% 3PT
DeRozan has failed to reach the 20-point mark in each of his last two games, which dampens an otherwise fantastic six-game stretch. This marks the first time this season that the 6-7 wing has not tallied at least 20 points in consecutive games this year and only fourth time all year he has failed to do so.
The most troubling of his recent performances is his failure to get to the free throw line and make shots from the charity stripe. DeRozan, who is averaging 7.7 free throws a game, has only attempted 12 freebies in his last five contests -- missing five of his last eight attempts over the last two games.
11. Kristaps Porzingis, (Up 2): 27.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 46.7% FG, 40.7% 3PT
Porzingis’ numbers are down almost across the board, the lone exception blocks per game. But he is still carrying the offense for a team that is currently eighth in the Eastern Conference.
Porzingis picked up his third double-double of the season this past week. The 7-3 Latvian has scored 20 or more points in four of his last five games and has blocked multiple shots in six of seven contests to give him the league at 2.29 a game.Plus, he is still draining over two three-pointers a game at a 40.7% clip.
10. Bradley Beal, (Up 2)
24.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.3 APG, 47.1% FG, 37.4% 3PT
Beal continues to step up his game with Wall battling with his knee injuries. Beal has scored at least 20 points in five straight games, picking up his first double-double of the season Nov. 17. Heis outpacing his 2016 averages in points, assists and steals.
9. Anthony Davis, (Up 1)
25.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.9 APG, 57.3% FG, 37.8% 3PT
Davis has topped the 20-point mark in each of his last three games and has been extremely efficient in doing so. The 6-10 big man has combined to tally 88 points in the last three games, on just 48 shots, making 29 (60.4%) of those attempts. He also has made 30-of-36 (83.3%) free throw attempts during this stretch.
In addition, Davis picked up two double-doubles to give his 13 in 18 contests this year.
8. Victor Oladipo, (Up 3)
22.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, 46.1% FG, 44.9% 3PT
Oladipo has struggled with his shot over the last 10 or so days, but he has still topped the 20-point plateau in four of his last five contests to lead the Pacers to a season-high five game winning streak.
The severity of Oladipo’s knee injury that he suffered on Friday (Nov. 24) is unknown. He is averaging 21.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists over the last five games, picking up his first double-double of the campaign last Friday.
7. DeMarcus Cousins, (Down 2)
26.1 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.4 BPG, 46.2% FG, 32.3% 3PT
Cousins, who has not played more than 32 minutes in any of his last five games, racked up double-doubles in each of his last two contests -- ending a three-game streak of failing to do so. Cousins has topped the 20-point mark just once in his last four games. However, he has continued his solid playmaking, doling out three or more assists in every game except the season opener.
6. Kevin Durant, (Down 1)
24.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.7 APG, 52.7% FG, 43.2% 3PT
Durant has missed two of the Warriors’ last three contests with an ankle injury and three games altogether this month. When the reigning Finals MVP has been able to go, he has been very good. Durant has topped the 20-point plateau in each of his eight games -- contributing 24.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting 52.6% from the field in November.
5. Steph Curry, (Up 1)
25.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.3 APG, 47.4 FG%, 38.2% 3PT
Curry was on fire in the second quarter against the Bulls on Friday, putting up 26 of game-high 33 in the period. The explosion marked the two-time MVP’s seventh career 30-point half and 21st 20-point quarter.
Curry, who has made at least 50% of his shots in four straight games, has scored at least 24 points in those games which includes three 30-point efforts. He has also grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists during this stretch.
In his last five contests, Curry is averaging 28.0 points along with 6.8 rebounds and 5.4 dimes while shooting 49.0% from the field.
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, (Down 3)
29.7 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 4.4 APG, 55.2% FG, 26.7% 3PT
The NBA’s No. 2 scorer saw his scoring numbers drop by two points over his last three games as produced 68 points during the stretch while also missing a game with a right knee injury. The Bucks lost two-of-the-three games that Antetokounmpo played in.
A big reason for the 22-year-old forward’s scoring dip was his struggles shooting the ball. The Greek Freak made 21-of-57 (36.8%) shots from the field and was just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. Although he was 21-of-28 (75.0%) at the charity stripe. Still, Antetokounmpo was good on the defensive end coming up with seven blocks and six steals.
3. Kyrie Irving, (Up 4)
22.9 PPG, 5.1 APG, 3.2 RPG, 47.6% FG, 36.9% PT
Irving has had quite a two-week run, upping his scoring and shooting percentages across the board. Since returning from a one game absence with a fractured face, Irving has poured in at least 20 points in five of the six contests and has topped 30 points three times, including a season-high 47 on Nov. 20.
Irving went for 30 points, on an efficient 9-of-15 shooting, in just 25 minutes in win over the MAgic on Nov. 24. It marks the first time Irving scored 30-plus points in 25 or fewer minutes played. Also, he's the first Celtics player with 30-plus points in 25 or fewer minutes played since Kevin McHale (31) on Feb. 7, 1990 against the Hornets.
The 6-3 point guard is producing 29.2 points, 4.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 57.5% from the floor and 52.0% from beyond the arc. He has made at least 50% of his shots in each of his last four contests. Plus, he is turning the ball over a career-low 1.9 times a game and has a career-best 2.67 assist-to-turnover ratio.
2. LeBron James, (Up 1)
28.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 8.5 APG, 59.9% FG, 36.0% 3PT
James has had a major hand in the Cavs seven-game winning streak. He has been particularly fantastic in the fourth quarter where he leads the league in scoring at over 9.0 points a game. LeBron had a hand in 27 of the Cavs 40 points in the 4th and overtime in win over the Clippers last Friday (Nov. 17) and tallied 23 points in the final 12 minutes of Wednesday’s victory over the Nets. Then on Nov. 24, The King compiled a triple-double against the Hornets, knotting the game up late on a drive to the bucket before JR Smith won it at the free throw line.
James now has 57 triple-doubles for his career. That wasn’t the only milestone James, who is averaging nearly 30 points along with 8.8 rebounds and 8.0 assists in his last five games, has reached recently. James has scored in double-figures in 810 consecutive games to move within 56 games of Michael Jordan’s record.
1. James Harden, (Up 1)
31.1 PPG, 9.8 APG, 4.9 RPG, 44.7% FG, 39.5% 3PT
Can James Harden finally breakthrough and win his first MVP Award?
Harden, who was runner-up to Russell Westbrook in the voting last year, has gotten off to a fantastic start this season. He has really stepped up his production in November.
Harden has scored 20 or more points in each of his 10 games this month, topping the 30-point mark six times including two of the last four games. The 28-year-old pumped in 38 points against Toronto on Nov. 14 and two days later threw in 48 against Phoenix.
Over the last four games, Harden has compiled 136 points along with 34 assists and 21 rebounds. These performances has helped the 6-5 shooting guard to up his season totals to a league-high 31.1 points a contest, which is nearly a point more than the last time I posted my MVP rankings.
Harden is producing 35.1 points, 10.5 assists and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 46.5% from the field and 42.7% from beyond the arc in November. He has posted six double-doubles and a triple-double this month to increase his total to eight and two, respectively.
Harden started No.7 in my initial rankings and moved up to second in the previous one. Now, he is No. 1 and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if that he finishes the year with the player of the year hardware.