Top 10 NBA MVP Candidates: Paul George, Chris Paul Leading the Way
Top 10 NBA MVP Candidates
The opening few weeks of the 2013-14 NBA season have have been nothing short of spectacular.
Through the first two weeks of the season we've seen the Indiana Pacers, the final obstacle in each of the past two seasons for the Miami Heat, emerge as a true juggernaut and NBA title contender. We've watched as the once offensively driven Golden State Warriors have begun to slowly establish a defensive identity that goes beyond just the interior presence of Andrew Bogut to one where injecting the opposition with some semblance of frustration has become part of the nightly game plan. Finally, the Minnesota Timberwolves, marred in a consistent streak of mediocrity since the departure of Kevin Garnett, have finally gotten past the chronic health issues that debilitated their attempts at respectability in each of the last two seasons. Not only have the trio of NBA franchises taken the proverbial leap into playoff contention, but we've seen the emergence of three teams that strike fear into the hearts of each and every soul sitting on the opposing bench.
Furthermore, in players such as Kevin Love,Anthony Davis and Paul George we've seen the birth of true superstars within the NBA. Whether the case of Love finally brushing off the notion of being merely a productive talent that can't lead a winning team, George building on the star we witnessed ignited during the war that waged between the Heat and Pacers this past spring or the birth of a superstar in Davis, we've been blessed in what we've witnessed through the early part of this season.
As we've seen in recent times, for a player to hold legitimate hopes at the coveted NBA MVP award it takes not only production but success in the wins column. Whether one looks at LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Steve Nash or Kobe Bryant, each of these recent recipients lifted their team into the elite echelon of the NBA.
Through two weeks the top candidates for the award feature both familiar faces and ones new to such significant conversations. Without further delay, here are your candidates for the MVP award.
10. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
2013-14 Stats: 22.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 48 percent from the field
Has any team surprised us more thus far this season than the Portland Trail Blazers?
Winners of their past six contests, the Trail Blazers sit at 8-2, good for second in the highly competitive Western Conference where a mere game and a half separate first from seventh.
Although the team drastically improved its bench this past summer, the team's fortunes begin and end with LaMarcus Aldridge.
Thus far, the 28 year old has put up numbers that are all too familiar to admirers of one of the best power forwards in the game, and these numbers translate into serious NBA MVP consideration once coupled with the start his team has gotten off to.
Can the Trail Blazers keep it up? At this stage one cannot be sure, but the one certainty that can be underlined is that for them to do so Aldridge will have to continue his stellar run of success.
9. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
2013-14 Stats: 18.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks
Although two All-Star game appearances sit firmly next to his career accolades, one can't help but feel that we are chronically overlooking Al Horford, arguably one of the best two way post players in the NBA.
With the departures of Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, the Atlanta Hawks knew that aside from Jeff Teague, a player who has picked up his play this season, their future for the time being rested on the shoulders of Horford.
Sitting at 6-4, the impact that Horford has on both ends of the floor for the Hawks is a big reason why they've gotten off to the kind of start they have which seemed very unlikely with the loss of arguably their best player from last season.
8. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
2013-14 Stats: 19.1 points, 5.8 assists, 1.7 steals on 51% from the field
Over the past few seasons, it always seems like a different player rests as the key to success for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Two seasons ago it was the exploits of Zach Randolph that nearly made the Grizzlies a Cinderella story in the NBA.
Last season NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol and the neck beard that would make the cast of Lord of the Rings jealous proved the key piece that translated into the first appearance to the Western Conference Finals in franchise history.
At the moment, while both of the above remain mainstays and vital contributors, Mike Conley is what makes this team go.
As one of the best defensive point guards in the league, the impact that Conley has had over the past few seasons on that end of the floor were never in doubt, but what you would get from him on a nightly basis on the offensive end was not as clear.
So far this season that murky mystery looks pretty crystal clear as he has been the main catalyst in the Grizzlies' early success this season.
7. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
2013-14 Stats: 20.9 points, 11 rebounds, 3.6 blocks, 2.1 steals
Let's just put it out there: if the New Orleans Pelicans were sitting above .500 instead of the 4-6 start through the first ten games of the season, we might have had Anthony Davis sitting atop these rankings.
In just his second year, Davis has taken the NBA by storm. Although his slender frame still makes one think of an excessively tall Nicole Richie on some nights, there is no doubting what Davis brings to the table. Whether it's his offensive awareness coupled with his quickly expanding effectiveness on that side of the floor, the defensive prowess that has already established him among the elite rim protectors in the NBA or the unibrow that guarantees distraction to the point of at least one opposing defensive breakdown a night, the emerging superstar does it all.
With the return of Ryan Anderson to an already well equipped roster that features the likes of Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday, team success for the Pelicans isn't far away.
As such, neither is the day when we seriously discuss Davis as a legitimate threat for the MVP award.
6. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
2013-14 Stats: 19.7 points, 8.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds
Sitting at 7-3 on the young season, the emergence of Stephen Curry, the breakout star of the 2012-13 NBA playoffs, is a big reason why his team has become a legitimate contender for the NBA championship.
Although the presence of the now healthy duo of Andrew Bogut and David Lee along with the dangerous Klay Thompson have each done their share of heavy lifting this season, it is Curry that plays the puppet master for the Golden State Warriors.
Though early injury concerns and a few less than stellar performances have dampened Curry's statistical case for this award through the first ten games of the season, one can rest assured that the trend won't continue for much longer. With the emergence of the Warriors as a team that, with the acquisition of Andre Iguodala, is able to stifle opposing offenses instead of merely attacking to outgun them, this is a team that can seriously begin inserting itself into the elite conversation.
If the Warriors are able to build on the great beginning to the season and Curry is able to regain the confidence that radiated from him throughout last spring and reek havoc with it, serious MVP consideration for Curry won't lie too far away.
5. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
2013-14 Stats: 28.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists
Having Kevin Durant this low on the MVP watch feels wrong.
It looks wrong.
Sadly, in the early goings, it isn't.
Although the numbers are impressive as usual, the impact that the four players ahead of him on the list have made early on is just something that Durant has not matched.
It is a long season and the Oklahoma City Thunder are the kind of elite team that will threaten to win 60 games, something that will surely get Durant into the MVP conversation.
He'll be right there by season's end. He just isn't right now.
4. LeBron James, Miami Heat
2013-14 Stats: 27.3 points, 6.9 assists, 5.4 rebounds on 62% from the field
Have we ever seen a player in the history of the NBA that is more efficient and explosive on the floor?
Although he has not quite replicated the gaudy numbers that have become a foregone conclusion to the league's crowning jewel, impressive numbers have been put up nonetheless.
That said, with four MVP trophies under his belt and a standard set over the past two seasons that is all but impossible to replicate let alone surpass, it looks to be the year that the throne set aside for the league's most valuable player is filled by a new face.
LeBron James remains the league's best player, just not its most valuable one in the early part of this season.
3. Paul George, Indiana Pacers
2013-14 Stats: 23.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists
Without a doubt, the Indiana Pacers have been the cream of the crop in the NBA in the early part of the 2013-14 NBA season.
They possess the kind of size that hasn't been seen by the NBA since Donald Stern sat through a Godzilla marathon and the kind of toughness that would make Tyler Hansbrough back away before even making eye contact.
The strength of the team might lie in it's defense, anchored by Roy Hibbert, but their swagger and offensive improvement lies in Paul George, one of the league's biggest stories early on.
With the ability to knock down the long distance jump shot, lock down the opponent's best player, score in a multitude of ways and contribute in every facet of the game, there arguably hasn't been a better player in the NBA this season.
2. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
2013-14 Stats: 26.8 points, 13.6 rebounds 4.5 assists
It looks like Kevin Love finally took some of the criticism that has followed him around -- the whispers of anchoring mediocre teams -- to heart and decided enough was enough.
Sitting at 7-4, the Minnesota Timberwolves have become one of the league's most exciting teams to watch. In Love, they possess not only a throwback talent that reminds one of a different era but also one of the most productive players in the entire league.
The numbers are there.
The impact is there.
Only one man stands in his way to claiming the right to the award through the early stages of the NBA season.
1. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
2013-14 Stats: 19.6 points, 12.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds
Has there been a player more deserving of the MVP award thus far in the season than Chris Paul?
Over the last two seasons, Paul transformed the Los Angeles Clippers from the laughingstock of the NBA into a legitimate playoff team and one that, aside from a few evident weaknesses such as outside shooting and the stagnant development from the tandem of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, became a contender for the NBA championship.
With the improved floor spacing, Paul has rained chaos upon the league in the early portion of the season.
Through the first ten games of the NBA season, the MVP of the league has resided in the city of lights.
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