1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook knew he’d have to do it all for the Thunder (31.1 points, 9.5 assists, 8.3 rebounds) and has done exactly that in his first season without Kevin Durant. The question is: can he keep up this wicked pace all season?
Accurate placement, Loyalbrook has been on a tear with a good team thus far.
2. James Harden, Houston Rockets
So far, Mike D’Antoni’s point guard experiment has been a smashing success. Harden is averaging 30.6 points, 13 assists and 7.6 rebounds and collected his 10th career triple-double (24 points, 15 assists, 12 rebounds) in Wednesday’s win over the Spurs.
Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin, and now James Harden. Mike D’Antoni can bring the most out of any talented offensive player.
3. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
All this talk of someone averaging a triple-double for the entire season and no one is talking about LeBron (22.9 points, 9.9 assists and 8.9 rebounds) doing it? He’s on a career-high pace in rebounds and assists.
King James. The only reason he doesn’t win the MVP every year is simply to spread the love.
4. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Griffin has bounced back brilliantly from a disastrous and injury-plagued 2015-16 season to help fuel the best team in the Western Conference. He’s doing it all for the Clippers (19.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists) in just 30 minutes a night.
I constantly tell people about how Blake Griffin is the best power forward in basketball until I’m proven otherwise. I will not grant Anthony Davis this title based on potential. Blake leads the Clippers with a 8-1 NBA best start.
5. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
Durant in an ensemble cast looks a lot like the Durant we saw as part of a dynamic duo with Westbrook: unstoppable. He’s shooting a far and away career-best 57.3 percent and 40.5 percent from deep.
He’s still soft.
6. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
He’s always been a problem on defense, but his growth and development on the offensive end is startling. He’s averaging a career-best 27.4 points per game and remains the league’s best defender.
Some ups and downs for the Spurs, mostly ups with Gregg Popovich. Kawhi may go down one day as one of the best players to never win an MVP. Much like a young Wade, he’s getting it done on both ends.
7. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
That ankle scare Wednesday didn’t bother Curry one bit as he bounced back with another monster effort (33 points, seven assists, five rebounds) in a win over Denver. He’s shooting a blistering 63 percent on 3-pointers over his last three games.
To no one’s surprise, Curry is taking a slight step back with the addition of Kevin Durant. Steph Curry is still elite and playing like it.
8. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
DeRozan is riding the wave of that Olympic year bounce to the top of the scoring chart (34.1 ppg on 53.3 percent shooting). The fact that he’s doing it without significant production from beyond the 3-point line (1.7 attempts) is what’s truly remarkable.
Welcome back to the mid range shot in the NBA. DeMar DeRozan is bringing it back!
9. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
Walker is the best player on perhaps the most surprising team in the league in the early going (check the standings). Walker is averaging career-highs in points (23.9), field goal percentage (46.6) and 3-point shooting (43.3).
The Hornets are a 2nd best in the Eastern Conference. Gotta love how the hornets are playing, all lead by the former Husky. Accurate placement, but I’d take Lillard over him.
10. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard’s MVP ambitions are well documented. And he’s backing it up on the floor this season (30.0 points on 48 percent shooting and 36.5 from distance, 5.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists).
Dame Dolla, better than 10 in my eyes.
Next five (listed alphabetically): DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings; Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans; Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets; Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks; Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Thoughts on the NBA’s list? Tweet at me: @tprx11