The NBA season is nearing its halfway mark, which means it’s worth checking in on what’s shaping up to be perhaps the most interesting MVP race the league has seen in years. Multiple young players have made the leap to superstardom this season, while others who have been stars for years have taken their games to a new level so far in 2016/17.
Two of those young players that have taken a leap this season likely won’t receive a ton of MVP votes, given their teams’ middling performances. But Anthony Davis is blowing away his career highs in PPG and RPG, with 29.2 and 11.7, respectively, while also contributing a league-leading 2.6 BPG. Giannis Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, is doing a little of everything for the Bucks, with an eye-popping stat line of 23.8 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 5.9 APG, 2.0 SPG, 2.0 BPG, and a .536 FG% in 32 games. Davis and Antetokounmpo are 23 and 22 years old, respectively, so even if they don’t get serious MVP consideration this season, they’ll have plenty more chances to compete for the award in the future.
Two former MVP winners have been as good as ever this season for the two teams expected to meet again in the Finals. In the East, LeBron James had been expected to play a slightly lesser role during the regular season in order to make sure he’s fresh for the playoffs, but the veteran forward has actually seen his MPG increase to 37.1, and his numbers this year are the best they’ve been since his return to Cleveland — 25.6 PPG, 8.7 APG, 7.9 RPG, and a .511 FG%, including 38.4% on three-pointers.
In the West, Kevin Durant has been the best player on a Warriors team that already featured three All-NBA stars, including last year’s MVP. While Stephen Curry‘s production has dipped a little, Durant’s efficiency has gone through the roof — he’s shooting a career-best 53.7% from the field, and has also emerged as a solid rim protecter and rebounder for a team lacking a traditional impact center. His 8.9 RPG and 1.6 BPG are career highs.
At this point though, the MVP race may come down to two of Durant’s former teammates. James Harden, who is coming off an astonishing 53-point, 17-assist, 16-rebound showing on New Year’s Eve, has led the league in assists with 12.0 per game, and has also averaged 28.5 PPG and 8.1 RPG for an overachieving Rockets team that won 15 of 17 games in December.
In a season full of incredible statistical achievements though, it has been Russell Westbrook who has arguably put off the most impressive stat line so far. Through 34 games, the Thunder point guard continues to average a triple-double, having scored a league-leading 30.9 PPG to go along with 10.7 APG and 10.5 RPG. As has been mentioned often this season, Westbrook would be the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double if he can keep up the pace.
With so many worth candidates this season, including a few I didn’t mention, who do you like so far in the NBA’s MVP race? Do you expect one player to take hold of the race in the second half, or will it be a toss-up at season’s end? Jump into the comments section below to weigh in with your thoughts!