A third of this year’s season is already on the books, and teams are really starting to come together and showing what we can expect out of them come playoff time, assuming they do make the playoffs.

Moreover, there have been a handful of players that have been just impressive to start the season, leading their respective squads through this campaign en route to another playoff run.

Then again, there’s a never-ending debate on whether a player should or shouldn’t be considered for the MVP award depending on his team’s record. Even though the award should be handed to the best player of the year.

Either way, we’re not going to contribute with that debate, and we’re going to let you know about basketball reference’s top 10 MVP candidates.

 

10. Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard doesn’t want to hear anything about a so-called rebuilding process at Rip City, and he especially doesn’t want to know about any trade that could take him away from Moda Center.

Lillard has always been determined to prove that he’s one of basketball’s best scorers and he’s been on a roll to start the season, leading the Blazers with his averages of 27.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 0.8 steals and 3.0 triples per game.

 

9. James Harden

Well, the Houston Rockets are 11 and 12 through 23 games, and compared to the 18-5 record they had at this point of last season, it would be really tough for us to take Harden as a serious MVP candidate.

Even so, the reigning MVP has been quite good for a team that hasn’t been able to find consistency or gets stops, posting averages of 30.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 2.3 steals and 4.2 three-pointers a game.

 

8. LeBron James

The LeBron effect is real, and even though the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten off to a shaky start of the season, they’re a lock to put an end to their playoff drought and go back to Championship contention.

James has been his usual self, and even though he hasn’t been an MVP candidate for years now, the fact that he’s still able of averaging 27.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.9 blocks and 2.1 triples per game at his age is just impressive.

 

7. Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic never ceases to amaze. He’s just incredibly talented and crafty for a guy his size, and he averages more assists per game at center than 21 other starting point guards. How’s that even possible?

Jokic is by far the best player in the best team in the Western Conference, and he’s only getting better. Even though he’s never going to be a good defender, he’s a nightly triple-double threat with his averages of 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 triples per game.

 

6. Kyle Lowry

Credit: Getty Images

Kyle Lowry is having a breakout year even though he’s not really scoring the rock that much. His playmaking has been just superb, and he’s stepped up when Kawhi Leonard has been forced to rest.

Lowry is currently leading the league in dimes per game and has shot the ball with vast efficiency, leading the Raptors to the best record in the East with his averages of 15.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 10.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.3 triples a night.

 

5. Joel Embiid

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Joel Embiid is clearly the league’s most entertaining big man right now. His two-way versatility is just off the charts, and the fact that he’s the best player on a team that also features Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons is just scary.

The Sixers are one of the toughest teams to beat at home and that’s mostly thanks to The Process’ stellar play in both sides of the hardwood, averaging 27.0 points, 13.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.2 triples and 2.0 blocks per game.

 

4. Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard has shown no signs of rust whatsoever, so I’m definitely not buying his injury from last year right now. Truth or not, he’s going to be at the top of the MVP ladder in no time for sure.

Leonard is the best defender in the league when healthy, while his offensive game has really come along over the course of the years. This season, he’s averaging 25.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

 

3. Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis has shown once again that the New Orleans Pelicans just can’t win without him, and that he’s never going to win an MVP as long as he doesn’t leave that small market franchise.

Davis is the best two-way big man in the league, and he always posts MVP-like seasons, but he has already outgrown his team with his averages of 28.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.7 blocks per game.

 

2. Kevin Durant

Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant keeps proving that he’s the best player on the best team in the world, leading the Warriors even when Stephen Curry was forced to sit with a groin issue, while Draymond Green hasn’t been able to play either.

Now, even though Curry’s back, Durant has established himself as the team’s go-to-guy in both ends of the hardwood in what may be his last season at the Bay. So far, he’s averaging 30.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.5 triples and 1.1 blocks per game.

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1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

If he keeps on his stellar play, Giannis Antetokounmpo is definitely going to win his first of many MVP awards, especially if the Milwaukee Bucks are able to maintain their dominant performances throughout the entire season.

Giannis gained a lot of muscle and worked out with Kobe during the offseason, and it has definitely paid off so far. Throughout the year, the Greek Freak is averaging 27.6 points, 13.2 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks on 57% shooting.

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