Most NBA teams have only played 11 or 12 games so far, meaning we’re about one-seventh of the way through the 2016/17 regular season. While that’s too early to make any concrete declarations about how the rest of the season will play out, it has given us a preview of which players figure to be involved in the race for 2017’s Most Valuable Player award.
Oliver Maroney of Basketball Insiders examines this subject in a piece today, providing some early power rankings for the MVP race. In Maroney’s view, James Harden is the early frontrunner for the award. Harden, who is doing it all for the Rockets so far, is leading the league in assists by a comfortable margin, with 12.8 per game, and also ranks in the top five in scoring with 28.5 PPG. He has recorded three triple-doubles in his first 12 games of the season.
Behind Harden, Maroney places LeBron James second, with Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, DeMar DeRozan, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Blake Griffin filling out the rest of his list.
Some of those players, like DeRozan (33.3 PPG) and Westbrook (31.8 PPG, 9.8 APG, 9.5 RPG), are in the conversation because of the incredible numbers they’re posting so far. Others, like James, Paul, Durant, and Curry belong in the discussion because they’ve been as great as ever for the NBA’s best teams.
Slumps, injuries, and team performances could derail some of these MVP résumés over the course of the season, but based on what you’ve seen so far and what you expect to see the rest of the way: Who is your early pick for the MVP award? Will a dark horse not even mentioned by Maroney emerge as a candidate, or will the eventual winner be one of the 11 players he listed? Do you agree that Harden is the early favorite, or would you lean toward another player?
Jump into the comments section below to weigh in with your thoughts!