With the 2019 portion of the 2018-19 NBA season upon us, it finally feels like we have enough of a sample size to begin the discussion of who currently belongs in the NBA MVP conversation for this season.
CURRENT NBA 2019 MVP CONTENDERS:
- Giannis Antentokounmpo, MIL – After finishing last season with a 44-38 record, 7th seed in the East, and a first round exit at the hands of Boston, Milwaukee is well on its way to a 50+ win campaign. At the moment they are 26-10 and only a ½ game behind Toronto for first in the East in large part due to “The Greek Freak.” Antetokounmpo leads the Bucks in PPG, RPG, APG, SPG, and FG%. At 24, he will have many opportunities to win the award in the future and this season appears to be the first of a long run of MVP contention. If he keeps up this production for the rest of the season, it will be difficult to deny him #1 of his young career.
- James Harden, HOU – The defending MVP is currently playing the best basketball of his career and has forced himself back among the top names in any MVP discussion. Let’s recap his December: 36.4 PPG, most in December by anyone since Jordan in 1986, 2nd most points by a Rocket in a calendar month only trailing Moses Malone in 1982 (he won MVP), joined Kobe and MJ as the only players to score 400 points in a 10-game stretch in the last 30 years, current 8 game streak of 35+ points and 5+ assists passed Oscar Robertson for most all-time, going for his 5th straight 40 point game tonight in Oakland against the Warriors, and most importantly, has brought Houston from 14th in the packed West to 4th and all while Chris Paul has been out.
- Kawhi Leonard, TOR – The clear best player on the league’s best team. Arguably the league’s best two-way (perimeter) player. Leonard is not new to the MVP field and a 60+ win season by the Raptors along with a #1 seed in the conference could be the classic MVP formula for him to take home his first if no one else steps up and distinguishes himself from the pack in the second half of the season. Leads the team in points, rebounds, and steals as he heads back to San Antonio tonight for the first time, fresh off a 45 point output on NYE.
KNOCKING ON THE DOOR:
- LeBron James, LAL – Leads the Lakers in PPG, APG, and RPG as they currently stand in the playoff standings and 4 games out of 1st. Los Angeles has not appeared in the playoffs since 2013, but look to return this season with “King James” leading the way for this young team.
- Anthony Davis, NOP – The Pelicans would need to make a similar 2nd half playoff push led by AD if he has any shot at the MVP, but even doing so would likely not be enough in this competitive crowd.
- Kevin Durant / Stephen Curry, GSW – Both are playing at their usual MVP level. However, they likely cancel eachother out on the league’s best team, similar to Kobe and Shaq in the early 2000’s. One would likely need the other to be out extensively to even have a legitimate chance to end the season with another MVP trophy.
- Russell Westbrook / Paul George, OKC – Westbrook is probably the only one of the two with a real chance although George has been great thus far. Russ is currently on pace to average a triple-double for the 3rd straight season!!!
HONORABLE MENTIONS THAT NEED HISTORIC RUNS TO HAVE A SHOT
- Nikola Jokic, DEN
- Joel Embiid, PHI
- Damian Lillard, POR
- Kemba Walker, CHA
- Blake Griffin, DET
- Kyrie Irving, BOS
- LaMarcus Aldridge, SAS
- Luka Doncic, DAL
- Victor Oladipo, IND
- Marc Gasol, MEM