The race is wide open
We're two weeks into the NBA regular season, and the race for MVP seems as open as ever.
While the award has historically gone to the best player on one of the top two teams in the league, some extremely strong statistical starts may force the voters to think differently this season.
With that in mind (and while keeping one eye on the standings), here's a ranking of the MVP candidates after a handful of games have been played.
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans are 0-7 on the young season, but that's hardly the fault of Anthony Davis. He's averaging 30 points per game while leading the league in blocked shots, and is basically doing everything he can on both ends of the floor to try to squeeze a victory out of a significantly depleted roster.
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James Harden, Houston Rockets
Harden is averaging 31.5 points per game while leading the league in assists, but Houston is just 4-3 on the season after Monday's win over the Wizards.
We still like Harden's chances, but the wins haven't been there despite his gaudy numbers.
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Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Portland continues to improve, and Lillard's continued rise to stardom is a big reason why. He's averaging 32 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point distance — all of which are career-bests.
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Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
Much has been made of Golden State's slower-than-expected start, but the reality is the Warriors are 5-2, and Durant's play has consistently been his team's best.
KD is averaging 30 points per game on 59.3 percent shooting overall, while knocking down 42.9 percent of his looks from three-point distance.
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DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
DeRozan is leading the league in scoring with an average of 33.7 points per game, which is staggering when you consider that he essentially has no use for the three-point shot. He attempts less than two per game, and hits from beyond the arc at a dismal rate of just 20 percent.
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Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Leonard is the best player on the 5-2 Spurs, and you could make the case he deserves to be higher on the list given the way he affects the game at both ends of the floor.
But what's been most impressive about Leonard so far is how well he's playing offensively. He's averaging nine free throw attempts per game, which means he's getting to the line twice as much as he did last season — and he's making his foul shots at a ridiculous rate of 96.8 percent.
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers
The Clippers are tied for first in the West and made their statement as one of the league's best with a blowout win in San Antonio. Griffin and Paul are less than two points per game apart in their scoring averages, Griffin does a great job helping DeAndre Jordan on the boards, and CP3 leads the league in steals.
Neither player is more important than the other to L.A.'s success, and they both deserve a mention here as the Clippers are on the rise.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
We knew Westbrook would be out for blood this season, and that he'd in all likelihood put up ridiculous numbers across the board. What wasn't as clear, however, was whether the Thunder had enough talent as a team to rack up the necessary wins to put Westbrook in the MVP conversation.
So far, that hasn't been an issue.
OKC improved to 6-1 with Monday's win over the Heat, and is in sole possession of first place in the West. Westbrook has a real shot at averaging a triple-double, too — he was at 33.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 9.7 assists through the first six games of the season.
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers are the league's only undefeated team, and LeBron remains the game's best player whenever the mood strikes.
James, too, can average a triple-double if he chooses, and his 10.7 assists and 8.8 rebounds per contest are career-bests through the first six games of the season.
LeBron may have been taken for granted by MVP voters the past few years, but if the Cavaliers dominate the East once again and if James keeps stuffing the stat sheet in every way possible, he may be in line for a fifth career MVP award by the time the season is finished.
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