The NBA season is more than halfway done and we are starting to get some clarification on the NBA landscape. The good teams are separating from the bad. In the eastern conference we have four to five teams standing above the rest. In the western conference we have 14 teams that are competitive and also the Phoenix Suns. Individual players are starting to separate themselves as well. Lets point out the top NBA MVP candidates.
Honorable Mention – Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are back to being relevant and that is all due to the play of Lebron James. James has his young and not so young counterparts playing well around him. James is averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game this season. The Lakers are right outside of the playoff standings right now but look to be in good shape once James comes back from his injury.
5. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid is dominating on both offense and defense in a similar fashion to Anthony Davis but the difference is the success of the 76ers compared to the Pelicans. Embiid is averaging 27.1 points, 13.2 rebounds and 2 blocks per game, while shooting 49% from the floor. Philadelphia is currently 31-17 behind the play of Embiid. The 76ers have two other stars in Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler but Embiid makes life for everyone on that team easier with his ability to draw double teams and protect the rim.
4. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets are currently second in the western conference standings behind the Golden State Warriors thanks to the unique dominance of Nikola Jokic. Jokic is the best passing big man in the league and its not even close. Jokic is averaging 7.7 assists to go along with 19.6 points and 10 rebounds per game. Jokic is very efficient as well, shooting 50% from the floor. Jokic’s versatility makes the Nuggets a difficult match-up for any team they go against.
3. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors have been in a dog fight with the Milwaukee Bucks for the top spot in the eastern conference. Kawhi Leonard has been the driving force behind that success. Leonard is back to his top five player in the league form from a couple of years ago. The Klaw is averaging 27.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game while shooting a very effective 50% from the floor, 37% from behind the 3 point line and 85% from the free throw line.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks look like true NBA Finals contenders thanks to the play of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo is having a career year which has translated to the Bucks looking like they have a chance to truly make some noise for the first time since the early Ray Allen days. The Greek Freak is averaging 26.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.
1. James Harden, Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets started off the year slowly and were on the outside of the playoff race until James Harden went on one of the biggest scoring runs we have ever seen. Harden is averaging over 40 points per game in the month of January. For the season, The Beard is averaging 36.3 points, 8.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game while shooting 44% from the floor and 37% from three point range. Harden has carried the Rockets while the team has dealt with injuries to players like Chris Paul and Clint Capela.