With the race for the NBA MVP heating up, we give you our top five candidates for the award as of Nov. 19.
Just missed: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
The two-time Defensive Player of the Year has slowed down a bit after a hot start, pushing him just outside of our top five for the week. He’s averaging 24.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.4 steals and is shooting 45.4% from the field and 40.3% from beyond the arc for the 10-3 Spurs.
T-5. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
Durant has had little trouble finding his niche in The Bay for the 11-2 Warriors, averaging a team-high 27.9 points to go along with 8.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals. He’s also shooting a career-high 57.2% from the field and 43.1% from three.
T-5. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
Averaging a league-leading 33.0 points per game, DeRozan became the first player since Michael Jordan (1986-87) to score at least 30 points in eight of his first nine games.
4. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Another year, another reminder that Paul is one of the best two-way point guards in NBA history. He’s averaging 17.9 points, 8.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds and a league-high 3.0 steals for the 12-2 Clippers.
3. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Seemingly in cruise control, James has led the defending champion Cavaliers to a 10-2 start, averaging 23.2 points and a career-high 8.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists.
2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
No Durant? No problem. Westbrook has responded to the offseason departure of his All-Star running mate in as Westbrook a way as possible, stuffing the stat sheet while shouldering the majority of the load for the 8-5 Thunder. He entered the weekend with a league-leading four triple-doubles, as well as 31.7-point, 10.1-assist, 9.6-rebound and 1.2-steal averages.
1. James Harden, Houston Rockets
Harden — who is averaging 28.7 points, 12.5 assists and 7.8 rebounds — has only played in 13 games, but already has more 30-point, 15-assist performances (four) than the entire NBA had all of last season (three). If he keeps up his record-setting pace while continuing to steer the Rockets toward the playoffs, he’ll be tough to dethrone.