We are about a quarter of the way through in this young NBA season and it continues to be exciting. From inflated stats to hot takes to overreactions and even more, the league's brightest starts continue to dazzle under the brightest of lights.
There have been overachiever, underachievers, and players playing at their expected level which has made the race for MVP. . . sort of. While the award itself seems to be a lock for a certain player at the moment, the race for runner-up is one of the most exciting in years. Here are the current top five candidates:
5. Kevin Durant / Russell Westbrook
The Thunder are cruising and it's thanks to their finally healthy duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Both players have been deserving of the praise that they have been receiving and are equally as important to the success of the team. Westbrook's stats are down from last year, but he is shooting at a higher percentage and is more efficient than before. Durant hasn't shown many signs of lingering injuries after his battle with them last year and looks to be the same elite player he was before. Oklahoma City is in good hands if this tandem remains injury free. It's hard to distinguish who is more worthy of the MVP right now, so we'll keep them tied in together.
4. Paul George Speaking of coming back from injury and not missing a beat, how about PG-13?! The All-Star forward hasn't just come back to do well, he's come back even better than he was prior to his gruesome injury. The Pacers are 17-12, and would be the story of the year if it weren't for the Warriors. George is putting up 24.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game. George is one of the best two-way players in the game and has been playing out of his mind so far this season. The Pacers aren't as talented as many of the other top teams in the league and he is keeping them in contention despite it.
3. LeBron James King James will be in this conversation until the day he retires. He makes everyone around him better and demands a lot from his teammates. It's all with good intentions though as the Cavaliers sit at the top of the Eastern Conference with Kyrie Irving just coming back from injury. James has been consistent all season long thus far and has led the Cavs to a conference best 13-1 home record. His numbers might falter a bit with Irving's return, but his efficiency will go up and so will Cleveland's record.
2. Kawhi Leonard The silent but deadly Leonard continues to amaze. The Spurs have a quiet 26-6 record (17-0 at home) and have been playing great basketball, despite needing to get used to new addition LaMarcus Aldridge. Leonard had some injury issues to start the season and now looks to be past it. He is shooting a league best 47.5 percent from beyond the arc and averaging a career best 20.9 points per game to go with 7.4 rebounds per game and 2.1 steals per game. Leonard is the best perimeter defender in the league and might be the only player in the NBA that can limit the next guy on this list.
1. Stephen Curry Shocker, I know. Steph Curry has been nothing short of sensational in what has been a storybook beginning for the Warriors. After an NBA record 24-0 start, the Warriors fell to the Bucks. Curry leads the league in scoring with 30.8 points per game on 52 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent shooting from beyond the arc on nearly 11 attempts a night. The Warriors have the best road record in the league at 14-1. No other team has fewer than 5 losses on the road. He is a lock to win the MVP again unless the Dubs take a drastic fall. Golden State looks even better than they did last year when Curry won the award. Watch out.