It’s never easy to dominate in a league where you have the best talents in the world, as even having playing time is something just a handful of players can brag about.
However, there are some players that stand out from the pack not only because of their physical gifts and tools, but because of all the little things they do.
And choosing the best player in the NBA has to be one of the trickiest things we could do right now. Gladly, we can break it down into categories to do it a bit easier. Let’s go:
Most Disappointing Player: Mike Conley
When the Utah Jazz traded for Mike Conley, everybody thought they’d be one of the teams to beat in the NBA. However, he’s been vastly inefficient and they’ve found their best rhythm now that he’s been sidelined with an injury.
Conley has played solid defense but has been all over the place offensively. He’s only been able to play 22 games this season, and it’s currently shooting 36% from the floor, with only 13.6 points per game. Also, the Jazz have gone 9-1 during the 10 games he’s been forced to sit out.
Most Surprising Player: Devonte’ Graham
Devonte’ Graham came pretty much out of the blue this season. He took a major step forward from his rookie year and is now one of the leading candidates to win the Most Improved Player award.
Graham has been shooting the ball at a high clip this season and is knocking down 38% of his attempts from three. Also, he’s leading the Hornets in assists per game despite sharing touches with Terry Rozier. So far, he’s averaging 18.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game.
Athleticism: Giannis Antetokounmpo
There isn’t a player in the league as athletic as Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s incredibly long, strong, and can contour his body on ways people in the Cirque du Soleil can only dream of. Ok, maybe that’s a little too far.
Still, Giannis’ athleticism is simply off the charts, I mean, there’s a reason why we call him the Greek Freak. He can take 3-4 dribbles and run the entire court without traveling. He can dunk from the free-throw line. C’mon.
Leadership: LeBron James
LeBron James is once again in the spotlight. He’s entering his 17th year as a 35-year-old and a lot of doubts regarding his health, but he’s shut down all the noise to do what’s best for his team, and that’s why they’re 34-8 after half of the season.
He didn’t want to get into controversies regarding the Kyle Kuzma situation. He embraced Kentavious Caldwell-Pope even amid his early-season struggles and didn’t mind taking a step back to Anthony Davis. He’s the ultimate leader.
Efficiency: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Beside completely dominating almost every aspect of the game and continuing to work on his skills, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been the most efficient player in the world this season in terms of production.
He’s scoring at a high volume but shooting 55.4% from the floor. Obviously, he does most of his damage from within close range, but he’s got a true shooting percentage of 61.4% and a PER of 33.2.
Clutch: Chris Paul
Even though people were already counting him out this season, Chris Paul has been balling. It may not reflect on the stat sheet as much as it did in the past, but he’s been outstanding.
Moreover, Paul has come huge in the clutch this season, embracing his role as the Thunder’s lone veteran. Also, he’s leading the league with 3.6 points per game in the clutch.
Defense: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis is one of the main reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers are currently leading the Western Conference right now, and while his offense stands out from the pack, his defense is what makes him so special.
Thus far, Davis has a Defensive Plus-Minus of 3.7, 2.7 defensive win shares, a defensive rating of 100, while snatching 1.5 steals, and 2.6 blocks per game. He’s a prime candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Shooting: James Harden
With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out of the picture this season, there hasn’t been a better shooter in the league than James Harden. Obviously, we’re not talking in terms of efficiency, but in terms of production.
Harden is averaging a league-leading 37.2 points per game while taking an absurd 13.4 attempts from beyond the arc. Moreover, he’s knocking down 5 threes per game, most of them coming off his sick step-back.
Playmaking: LeBron James
LeBron James has always been known for his ability to run an offense. However, he’s never been more of a floor general than this season, as he’s the primary – and sometimes, only – ball-handler on the team.
James is leading the league in assists per game (10.9) for the first time on his career, which is impressive enough for a small forward. He makes everybody around him better and has one of the highest basketball IQs in league history.
Rebounding: Andre Drummond
Ever since he made it to the league, Andre Drummond has been by far the most dominant rebounder in both ends of the hardwood, and this season hasn’t been the exception to that rule, as he’s grabbing 15.7 rebounds per game.
Drummond bodies his way into the paint and he’s just great at keeping position even against bigger centers. He’s a master at grabbing offensive boards as well, so he’s a lock to lead the league in total rebounds once again.
Scoring: James Harden
James Harden is quickly becoming the most unstoppable scorer we’ve ever seen. Either if you like what he does or not, you just can’t deny the fact that he’s completely bending the rules on his favor. Thus far, he’s shooting 44.6% from the floor, 86% from the line, and 37.3% from three, but he’s got a true shooting percentage of 61%.
Harden has all the tools to put the ball in the bottom of the net. He can finish through contact, pull-up, fade away, and hit his absurdly enticing step-back. You know what he’s going to do, but he does it anyway. He’s unstoppable.
Overall: Giannis Antetokounmpo
And once again Giannis Antetokounmpo has become the best player in the league. He’s coming off an MVP season, but you know a competitor like him is never satisfied with just one award.
Giannis is leading the Bucks again to the best record in the league. His shooting has improved, his court-vision keeps developing, and he looks way more in control of his body. He’s going to be the best player in the world for years to come. Thus far, he’s averaging 30.1 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game to go along with 1.2 steals, 1.1 blocks, and a PER of 33.2.