By Hayden Bonine
James Harden, G, Houston Rockets: 31.7 ppg, 9.7 apg, 5.1 rpg
After finishing second in the MVP voting last season, James Harden is determined to finish first this season. Harden leads the NBA in scoring, 3-pointers made (4.5) and 3-pointers attempted per game (11.0). He is third in plus-minus per game (+10.3), a great statistical indicator of a player’s positive or negative impact on a team’s performance. His assist total is second highest in the league and it is important to note that the league’s assist per game leader is Harden’s teammate Chris Paul. Harden has led the Rockets this season to the NBA’s second-best record thus far (18-4). Houston has won seven straight and faces the Utah Jazz on Thursday.
LeBron James, F/G, Cleveland Cavaliers: 28.3 ppg, 8.7 apg, 7.9 rpg
LeBron “King” James finds himself on the MVP watch list after leading the Cavaliers (16-7) to the NBA’s longest active win streak at 11. James, 32, has not shown his age this season. Against Memphis on Saturday, James scored 34 points, grabbed two rebounds and dished out 12 assists. He has dominated opponents with ease this season. His efficiency is showcased in the fact that his field goal percentage is 58.3 percent. That is highest in the NBA among players averaging more than 10 attempts per game. He is also third in points per game, first in field goals made per game (11.0) and is tied for first in minutes per game (37.1). Monday, James and Co. are looking to win their 12th straight. They face off against the cellar-dwelling Chicago Bulls (3-18).
Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks 29.4 ppg, 4.5 apg, 10.3 rpg
The man they call “The Greek Freak” has lived up to his nickname. Through Milwaukee’s 21 games, Giannis Antetokounmpo has scored less than 20 points only one time. His 29.4 points per game is second highest in the NBA. Antetokounmpo’s latest performance was a stat-sheet stuffer. He scored 33 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, passed for five assists, while recording one block and a trio of steals. The Bucks are 12-9 and he will need to improve his team’s record to have a chance to surpass Harden or James as MVP. Antetokounmpo’s squad will take the floor in Boston against the 20-4 Celtics on Monday.