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Giannis Antetokounmpo has stiff competition for the NBA MVP award

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It’s hard to believe that the 2019-20 NBA season is already more than a quarter of the way over. But here we are. And there’s been some interesting developments.

Despite losing Kyrie Irving in free agency, the Boston Celtics are a legitimate threat to win the East. The same goes for the Toronto Raptors, who were expected to take a step back after the offseason departure of Kawhi Leonard.

The New York Knicks, on the other hand, are still bad. I know that’s not really news, but I have a contractual obligation (not really) to point this out whenever the opportunity presents itself.

But here’s the big surprise: the Golden State Warriors — yes, the franchise that won three out of the last five NBA titles and formed one of the most impressive dynasties the sport has ever seen — have the worst record in the Western Conference.

The truth is, I expected them to be bad this season. I just didn’t expect them to be this bad. I guess that’s what happens when Kevin Durant bolts for Brooklyn and you’re without both Klay Thompson (torn ACL from last year’s Finals) and Stephen Curry (broken hand).

The Dubs are a perfect example of what usually happens when a team loses all its best players. On the flip side, if you happen to have one or more of these superstars on your squad, the sky’s limit.

This year, we’ve already seen many superstar players take their team — and their own game — to new heights.

Only one, however, can win the sports’s top honor at the end of the season. According to the Westgate SuperBook, these players have the best odds to win the 2020 NBA MVP award (as of December 2, 2019).



LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (9/2)

LeBron James isn’t playing like someone who’s in his 17th NBA season. The King’s putting up 25.6 points per game, leading the league in assists at 10.7 a night, and pulling down 7.0 boards a contest for good measure. More importantly, James and the Los Angeles Lakers have the best record in the West at 20-3. This could be the year ‘Bron finally takes home MVP nuomber five.

James Harden, Houston Rockets (7/2)

Whether it’s his impossible-to-guard step-back triple, his newly-installed one-legged jumper, or his finishing prowess at the rim, James Harden has proven to be one of the greatest scorers the game has ever seen. And this season is no different.

The Beard leads the NBA in total points, points per game (38.5), and three-point field goals. He’s also getting to the line more anyone else in the game, taking 14.6 freebies a night while on pace to shatter the record for most free throws made in a single season. Harden is definitely in the mix for his second MVP in three seasons.

  

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (3/1)

These are few things Luka has already accomplished this season: He became just the third player in NBA history — joining Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson — to average a 30-point triple-double for a calendar month and he tied Michael Jordan for the longest consecutive streak of games (18) with 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists.

Oh, and here’s another thing: The kid’s just 20 years old. It’s not a matter of if Doncic will win an MVP award, it’s a matter of when.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (3/2)

There’s any number of things I could say about Giannis Antetokounmpo.

I could mention that he’s averaging career-bests in points per game (30.8) and rebounds per game (13.1). I could point out that he tops all players in field goals, player efficiency rating, and defensive rating. And there’s also the all-important fact that the Milwaukee Bucks have the best record in the East (20-3) have won 14 straight contests.

This facts paint a fairly simple picture: Antetokounmpo has been absolutely sensational so far this season. But if I’m being honest, The Greek Freak’s dominance can be summed up best in two images:

Yeah, I think I’ll leave it at that. 



Other players to watch:

  • Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers (14/1)
  • Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers (25/1)
  • Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (30/1)
  • Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggers (50/1)
  • Paul George, Los Angles Clippers (50/1)
  • Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors (60/1)

Statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonAlsher.

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