Early NBA MVP candidates: Warrior-less top five candidates
By DUSTIN THOMAS
The season may have only started nine days ago but it is shaping up to be full of twists, turns and excitement. Besides hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy and getting covered in confetti, the most coveted award in pro-basketball is the Most Valuable Player award. It is never too early to speculate on early MVP candidates and take a look at five players who have really stood out so far this season:
The 6’3” starting point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers has his team sitting with a record of 2-2. He has led the way on the court for Rip City by averaging 34.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 4.5 APG. His leadership on the court and in the locker room has created a lot of buzz around the league and with fellow backcourt member C.J. McCollum, the Trail Blazers are poised to make a playoff run this season.
Now the new face of the franchise, this 6’3” point guard has his Oklahoma City Thunder off to a 3-0 start. After already having two triple-doubles in three games, Westbrook averages 38.7 PPG, 12.3 RPG and 11.7 APG. With these incomprehensible numbers, Westbrook is proving that he does not Kevin Durant by his side to be successful. Alongside Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams, fresh off multi-year extensions, the Thunder are ready for any shot at the NBA title.
Fresh off the Tim Duncan era, this two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year has taken his game to a new level. He has his San Antonio Spurs off to a 4-1 start and already a win over preseason favorite and so called “super team,” the Golden State Warriors.
Not only leading the way with his tenacious defense, this small forward has been averaging 28.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 3.8 APG. This year starts a new era in San Antonio and Leonard is at the front of it, looking to lead the Spurs back to the NBA Finals.
Kyrie Irving & LeBron James:
These two superstars have the Cleveland Cavaliers picking up right where they left off and with a record of 4-0. Irving has only gotten better during his fifth year in the league by averaging 26.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 4.0 APG.
The numbers do not specifically jump out at you but his leadership on the court and the way he helps his team in transition is just flawless. Besides, without his last-minute 3-pointer in Game 7 of the NBA Finals last year, the Cavaliers might not be the reigning champs this year.
As for James, he started his 2016-17 campaign off with a triple-double on opening night and has been himself ever since. He averages 20.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG and 9.5 APG. Like Irving, the numbers are not remarkable but the effect he has on his team is valuable on its own and what kind of MVP discussion would this be without mentioning the King?
The NBA season has started and is better than ever. Only time can tell who will win the MVP award and the Larry O’Brien trophy, but it’s always fun to debate who’ll win.
Will the Cavaliers repeat or will Kevin Durant joining last year's Western Conference Champions be what the Warriors need to dethrone the King? Pro basketball is back NBA fans, buckle up, this season is going to be a wild one.