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Monday, December 11, 2023

Early NBA MVP frontrunners

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The NBA season is still young, but some teams have come out of the gates firing. The Suns look to be on a redemption tour as they have raced to the top of the western conference standings, while the Bucks have had a scorching hot start. 

With that, certain players have begun to separate themselves from the pack. We see some of the same faces, but others (in new locations) have managed to force themselves into the NBA limelight. The season is long and things are bound to change, but what players are currently front-running in the NBA MVP race?

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The ‘Greek Freak’ is one of the most recognizable faces in the NBA. Most consider him the best player in the world and he now leads the latest generation to take center stage in the league. His Bucks have gotten off to their best start since he’s been part of the team, rattling off wins easily. Most would consider them to be one of a handful of teams capable of winning it all this year. In fact, if you were betting on sports, you’d see that Betfair have them as the joint championship favorites at +450, tied with the Boston Celtics.

When combining his team performance with his own stellar play, it’s easy to see him leading the MVP discussion. As of November 7th, the Greek international is second in the league in scoring and player efficiency rating with 32.6ppg and 33.4 PER. He is also chipping in 12.9rpg and 5.8apg. He doesn’t lack on the defensive end either, as he is leading the league with 0.8 defensive win share. Antetokounmpo is managing to get all of this done in just 33.5 minutes per game. 

He is carrying his team and it’s difficult to see any other player in the league who does more than him. He may have missed out on an MVP the last two years, owing to Nikola Jokić’s stellar play, but he is making it impossible not to give it to him this year.

Donovan Mitchell

Luckily for Donovan Mitchell, the NBA MVP award isn’t solely based on stats and team record. A certain element of storyline and player impact on a team is taken into account. Mitchell, so far, has taken a team with potential who only made the play-in game last year and transformed them into a powerhouse in the eastern conference. The squad was developing and looked to have an upward trajectory, but Mitchell has become the catalyst and accelerated their growth into a title challenger.

Of course, Mitchell doesn’t have bad stats himself. He is posting 31.4ppg while shooting 49.2% and dishing out 6.5apg. His leadership has been infectious for the Cavs and they feed off his energy. Having a player that can get a shot off any time he wants and take the game over in the final minutes allows the players around him to operate in their roles effectively. They’re definitely a franchise to watch out for.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>DARIUS GARLAND TO DONOVAN MITCHELL ������<a href=”https://t.co/rAhZOsEcZe”>pic.twitter.com/rAhZOsEcZe</a></p>— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ClutchPointsApp/status/1589825187427811328?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>November 8, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Devin Booker

Devin Booker is looking to rewrite his narrative. At the end of the playoffs last year, where the Mavs unexpectantly dumped them out, fans began to question if Booker was a player who could lead you to a championship. He has answered his critics in the early instances of this season. 

It’s not just his 27ppg but his attitude and willingness to drag his team to victory. The Suns have a fantastic team and Booker allows the game to flow rather than being a ball-stopper. Everything doesn’t have to go through him, but when it comes time to win the game, he’s more than willing to step up and make big shots. If they continue to win and end up as the number-one seed in the western conference, don’t be surprised if Booker hoists his first MVP trophy. 

The NBA looks like it is transitioning to a new era. There has been a blend between new and old the last few years, but this season it seems that the torch has been passed. Expect new names to pop up in the MVP discussion as the season progresses. 

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