By Nhan Doan
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo is hyped as the future MVP, but he might get there earlier than expected. Antetokounmpo, 22, had an explosive opening week, scoring 38.3 points per game and leading the Bucks in all statistical categories expect blocking. Antetokounmpo carried Milwaukee in a dramatic win against Portland on Saturday, where he scored a career-high 44 points and made two clutch defensive plays, and one of them was converted to the game-winning field goal.
James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets
James Harden continued to be the Rockets’ primary ball handler because of Chris Paul’s knee injury, which he benefited from a system that sparked his MVP-caliber campaign this past season. He led Houston to an improbable 17-point comeback against Golden State on opening night, where his ability to outplay Stephen Curry in the one-on-one situations in the final quarter was key to the comeback. Harden leads the league in three-point field goals made.
LeBron James, SF Cleveland Cavaliers
The definition of MVP is if said player was taken off the team, it would be nowhere near as good. From that stand point, LeBron James has been the NBA MVP for the better part of the decade. Entering his 15th season, Cleveland’s lack of quality point guard because of Isaiah Thomas’ injury and Derrick Rose’s struggle means James has to carry the workload. James ended the opening week leading the team in minutes, points and assists by a wide margin despite a nagging ankle injury.
Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans modern Twin Tower experiment might be a failure because of its lack of quality backcourt players, but Anthony Davis can make a statement for a MVP campaign. Davis, a former No. 1 pick, was impressive on both sides of the court, leading the league in rebounds with 16.7 rebounds per game while scoring 31.7 points per game.