This is my first official MVP Race. Although it’s too early to determine the likely MVP winner, early team success by teams such as Indiana and San Antonio has been propelled by certain players. Of course, we’re going to see recognizable names near the top during the midst of the season (King James). However, there may very well be a few players who are just emerging as MVP candidates in the 2013-14 NBA season.
Honorable Mention: Damian Lillard (POR), Kevin Martin (MIN), Dirk Nowitzki (DAL), Al Horford (ATL), Evan Turner (PHI)
10. Dwight Howard (HOU) – 17.1 PTS (52.2 FG%), 14.9 REB, 1.7 AST, 0.5 STL, 2.5 BLK. Team Record: 6-4
I feel a little bit sorry for Omer Asik. Dwight Howard took his spot as the team’s center and there was absolutely nothing Asik could do. Both big men are great defenders. With that said, Howard is clearly the more dominant player. He takes up so much space in the paint and opens up the court on offense. We could see Dwight Howard move up the ladder as he and James Harden build better chemistry.
9. James Harden (HOU) – 26.1 PTS (2.0 3PM), 5.1 REB, 4.8 AST, 2.1 STL, 0.8 BLK. Team Record: 6-4
I’m sure you could make a fairly strong case for James Harden being higher than this. Harden gave this Rocket team completely new life last year. His breakout season led them to the playoffs and he provided loads of excitement to Houston’s fans. James Harden has become one of the greatest at drawing fouls and using his body to create contact.
8. LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) – 21.3 PTS, 8.8 REB, 2.5 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.9 BLK. Team Record: 6-2
I think LaMarcus Aldridge is more valuable to the Blazers than people realize. Although he’s just an average defender, he’s very difficult to guard on offense. He’s very skilled in the post and he cannot be left open anywhere between the paint and three-point line. Aldridge draws defenders when he is fed the ball in the post. When he doesn’t, he’s often successful in putting the ball in the hoop.
7. Stephen Curry (GST) – 20.3 PTS (3.5 3PM), 8.5 AST, 3.5 REB, 1.6 STL, 0.1. Team Record: 6-3
Since his rookie year, Steph Curry has made tremendous progress. Curry was mainly feared as a very good ball handler and great shooter when he entered the league. Since then, he’s added much more to his game including the ability to get in the paint and much better court vision. Stephen Curry draws double- and triple-teams every game. Teams are terrified of his other-worldly shooting ability.
6. LeBron James (MIA) – 25.5 PTS (58.6 FG%), 7.3 AST, 5.5 REB, 0.6 STL, 0.3 BLK. Team Record: 5-3
Despite how much winning the league MVP again matters to him, LeBron could be in danger of losing the throne. James has won four MVPs including three of the last four. This season, though, the competition has gotten stiffer. There are teams who appear to be getting closer to dethroning the Miami Heat, such as Indiana. However, James almost has no chance of not finding his way into the top three of the real MVP Race at the season’s end.
5. Kevin Love (MIN) – 27.1 PTS (2.3 3PM), 14.2 REB, 5.1 AST, 0.6 STL. 0.3 BLK. Team Record: 6-3
It’s great to see Kevin Love off to such an impressive start. I mean, just look at this stat line. He’s the most skilled rebounder in the league, he can knock down the three consistently, and he has great court vision for a big guy. Kevin Love’s standing in the MVP Race depends mainly on two things: A) If he (and other key teammates) can stay healthy. B) How successful the Wolves are this season. Kevin Love is the best power forward in the game. It’s truly amazing how easy he makes grabbing 12-plus rebounds a game look.
4. Kevin Durant (OKC) – 29.3 PTS (11.6 FTM), 7.1 REB, 5.5 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.5 BLK. Team Record: 5-3
Something interesting about the league’s biggest superstars (James and Durant) is that they keep getting better. When it seems like their game can’t possibly be improved, they work in the offseason to perfect areas that need work. This season, Durant looks to be a more complete player than we’ve ever seen before. There is absolutely no stopping him from getting to the free throw line. He does a phenomenal job controlling the tempo as well as creating opportunities for his teammates.
3. Chris Paul (LAC) – 20.4 PTS (96.7 FT%), 12.8 AST, 4.6 REB, 2.9 STL, 0.1 BLK. Team Record: 6-3
CP3 has already had a few excellent primetime performances this season. There’s always a player on the other team trying to take over the game but it seems like Paul always steals the show. I’d like to see CP3 remain at around 20 points per game. He’s a better player when he’s aggressive in looking for his shots. It also keeps the defense guessing what he’s going to do between taking it to the hoop, making a great pass, or pulling up and making a silky smooth jumpshot.
2. Tony Parker (SAN) – 18.1 PTS (55.1 FG%), 6.2 AST, 2.8 REB, 0.6 STL, 0.1 BLK. Team Record: 8-1
Tony Parker’s stats aren’t nearly an indication of all he does for this team. Year after year, Parker acts as a crucial team leader and puts his teammates in the right place. One highly impressive stat is his 55 percent shooting. Parker is arguably the best point guard at creating quality shots for himself. It’s either him or CP3. Although Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose may be more explosive, Parker’s high I.Q. and impeccable footwork make the shots he generates of high quality. Parker is a point guard that can score at the basket like a power forward or center.
1. Paul George (IND) – 24.9 PTS (2.6 3PM), 7.8 REB, 3.6 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.4 BLK. Team Record: 8-0
The Indiana Pacers are undefeated through eight games. Paul George is the team’s superstar and franchise player. Therefore, Paul George is on top of the NBA as of today. Watch out LeBron and watch out Durant. As I said in my article on George being a top MVP candidate, I think PG24 has a legitimate shot at winning the league MVP. His supporting cast is among the best in the league. However, George’s impact on both sides of the ball is irreplaceable to the Pacers.
Follow me on Twitter @ZTennen11