…but that’s exactly what this post is going to be.
Over the years, the powers that be select a player worthy of the sole pleasure of being known as the most valuable player of that particular season. The funny thing about that is while the MVP and the league’s best player doesn’t always mean the same thing. In addition to this, we also have situations where the MVP is chosen solely for being the best player on the best team in the league (I’m looking at you Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash). But for sake of maintaining the same criteria, I’m going to rank players based on their individual stat lines in addition to their overall contribution to their team’s success. In other words, not just the best player on the best team.
That being said, let’s get right into it with the top 10 players lighting up the league so far after a whopping seven days of NBA action.
1. Russell Westbrook (PPG: 38.7, RPG: 12.3, APG: 11.7, Team Record: 3-0)
Two triple doubles in three games and an undefeated record. If that’s not enough to convince you that Russell Westbrook is on a mission to prove the Thunder will be just fine in the post-KD era, I don’t know what to tell you.
2. Kawhi Leonard (PPG: 28.0, RPG: 3.5, APG: 4.3, Team Record: 4-0)
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year for 2016-17 has been absolutely smothering on the defensive end of the ball to start the season. (Just ask Ben McLemore) Add that to an opening night blowout win over the Warriors and career-high scoring averages and Kawhi might be an early favorite to take home the MVP this season.
3. James Harden (PPG: 29.3, RPG: 7.3, APG: 10.7, Team Record: 2-1)
14 assists in the first half? Yeah I think this move to point guard might have been a good decision by Mike D’Antoni. But then again, it’s not like Harden wasn’t handling most of the on-ball duties in previous seasons with the Rockets anyway. Regardless, Harden has been playing at a level that looks to erase the awkward 2015-16 season and place Houston among the top of the Western Conference once again.
4. Anthony Davis (PPG: 37.7, RPG: 12.3, APG: 2.7, Team Record: 0-3)
If he can manage to stay healthy and play more than 68 games in a season, this might be the year that Anthony Davis officially claims his title as the best big man in the league. But if “if” was a fifth… well you know the rest. Anthony Dais has shown in just three games that he’s ready to take on the challenge. Now if only, he could get some help around him…
5. LeBron James (PPG: 21.0, RPG:8.3, APG: 10.0, Team Record: 3-0)
His point production might be down this season, but his most talked about offensive gift has been on full display this season with that double-digit assist average through three games. By letting Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love handle more of the scoring load, LeBron should be able to effect the game in seemingly every possible way this season.
6. Damian Lillard (PPG: 35.0, RPG:8.0, APG: 5.3, Team Record: 2-1)
This guy probably has the biggest chip on his shoulder out of any player in the league. After getting snubbed from the All-Star game last year, Lillard has been on a mission to prove everybody who doubted him wrong. It’s Lillard Time and Portland have to be excited to see how far he can lead these Blazers this season.
7. Kevin Durant (PPG: 31.3, RPG: 10.3, APG: 4.7, Team Record: 2-1)
With 4 of the top 15 players in the league on one team, it’s probably a safe bet to assume the MVP trophy won’t end up in Oakland this year as they’ll all be stealing votes from each other. But you can’t deny Durant’s greatness as arguably the best player on an already great team. That alone has to be enough to put him in the conversation.
8. Stephen Curry (PPG:25.7, RPG: 1.7, APG: 4.7, Team Record: 2-1)
The reigning two-time MVP has been pretty quiet by his standards thus far this season but he’s still the king of the regular season until someone dethrones him.
9. Demarcus Cousins (PPG: 30.0, RPG:9.7, APG: 2.7, Team Record: 2-1)
In a modern era where elite big men are harder to find than Charles Barkely at a Saladworks, it may not mean much to call Demarcus Cousins the best center in the NBA. But based on ESPN’s John Hollinger’s advanced metrics, the gap between Cousins and his competition is pretty glaring. Demarcus Cousins is in a league of his own in the center position and the Kings are going to need him to remain at this high level if they hope to have any chance of ending their 13-year playoff drought.
10. Blake Griffin (PPG: 22.5, RPG: 11.5, APG: 1.5, Team Record: 2-0)
This is a big year for Blake Griffin. Historically speaking, players tend to play at a slightly higher level during their contract year. I think Blake Griffin’s got a thing or two to prove after last season’s distractions. And with all of the “Western Conference Finals or bust” expectations for the Clippers, expect to see a lot of production out of the former number one overall pick.
* Stats accurate as of Monday October 31, 2016