Nate Stecklein, Writer

Now that we are about a quarter way through the NBA season, we can start to get an idea of what teams will make the playoffs and what teams will be hoping for a good pick in the draft. Similarly, we can begin to see which players are headed for All-Star weekend and which players are headed to the trading block or will have an extra-long free agency this year. Among the All-Star caliber players, some stand out for being not only better statistically but also for having a more significant impact on their team and the league as a whole. These next-level players are all attempting to acquire the coveted Maurice Podoloff MVP Award and bring their respective teams a championship.

At this point in the season, it appears that Giannis Antetokounmpo is the leader in the MVP race. So far, he has been averaging 31.7 points per game (ppg), 13.2 rebounds per game (rpg), and 5.5 assists per game (apg), all while shooting an efficient 56% from the field. Antetokounmpo has also been putting up some impressive numbers defensively, averaging 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. These active stats have lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 20-3 record and the top-ranked spot in the Eastern Conference.

The next player on the MVP list is the Mavericks’ very own, Luka Dončić. Despite being only 20, he has been putting up some insane stats, and has become very famous in a very short time span. He is currently averaging a very solid 30 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 9.2 apg, and 1.1 spg. The only real problem with his statistics is his poor efficiency. He has been turning the ball over about 4 times per game. He has also been only shooting 32.7 % from 3. While this isn’t terrible, a guard of his caliber should be shooting more efficiently. The main reason for Luka’s turnovers is his recent switch to point guard and his acceptance of a more ball-dominant role. Luka’s impact has been reflected in the Mavericks record. At this time last year, they were 12-11, and this year they have improved to 16-7.

Third on the MVP list is “The King,” Lebron James. Despite being 36 years old, Lebron is averaging the stats ofa player in theirprime with 25.9ppg, 6.8 rpg, and10.8 apg. Not only is Lebron far older than any of the other candidates, but he is also playing point guard full time for the first time in his career. James is aided by superstar power forward Anthony “The Brow” Davis, who is an MVP candidate in his own right. Davis has been averaging 27.7 ppg, 9 rpg, 3.3 apg, and a dominant 2.7 bpg. This extraordinary duo is helped by other veterans and has a strong bench that includes players like Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, and Rajon Rondo. This mix of tried and true superstars and solid role players have given the Lakers the number one ranked team in the league and an excellent record of 21-3 for this season.

For the past few years, when talking about the league MVP, it has been impossible not to mention James Harden, and this year is no different. Harden has been putting up an insane 38 ppg. He has also been averaging 7.5 apg and 6 rpg. On the defensive, Harden has been averaging 2 spg. The Rockets are currently ranked 5th in the Western Conference with a record of 15-8. The only criticisms on Harden’s performance this year is that he flops and seemingly gets every call no matter how close it is to going the other way.

Those are my top five MVP candidates at this point in the season. In order, I have them as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Dončić, Lebron James, Anthony Davis, and James Harden. However, there is still a lot of time for the list to change. It has been a dynamite season so far, and it will be exciting to see who makes it all the way to being named the MVP of the season.