NBA First Quarter MVP Race: James Harden At The Top?

Dec 2, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) guards Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 2, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) guards Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

We are just about a quarter into the NBA season and we now have a good feel for who has been playing well. At about 20 games in, what players lead the MVP race?

5 – Chris Paul – G – Los Angeles Clippers

Stats: 17.8 PPG, 9.1 APG, 5.2 RPG

Chris Paul’s season has tailed off a little bit as of late, but still good enough to be in the Top 5 of the NBA MVP race.

His defense is being played at a historic level this season as well as his offensive efficiency. The great CP3 is arguably having his best season of his career so far, and that is saying something. The Clippers are currently the third seed in the West and have shown serious signs that it could be their year to make a run.

The only way they can do that is if Paul dominates, which he has.

Dec 3, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) high fives forward Kevin Durant (35) after Thompson

Dec 3, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) high fives forward Kevin Durant (35) after Thompson

4 – Kevin Durant – F – Golden State Warriors

Stats: 27.7 PPG, 4.6 APG, 8.6 RPG

I expected him to be doing well, but not this well. Kevin Durant is scoring at an alarming efficiency and is killing it on the glass.

Everything portrayed and every reason why he left OKC has actually come true. The primarily jump shooter is shooting 56 percent from the floor, that is better than even some of the best low post big men.

Regardless of how stacked his team is, he deserves to be here with his team as the the No. 1 seed in the West. 

Nov 30, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after a play against the Washington Wizards during overtime at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 30, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after a play against the Washington Wizards during overtime at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

3 – Russell Westbrook – G – Oklahoma City Thunder

Stats: 31.2 PPG, 11.3 APG, 10.5 RPG

Russell Westbrook is definitely more valuable than LeBron right now and having a better regular season, but that isn’t the way MVP voting works. 

Anyways, the freak himself is averaging a triple-double like many predicted, but the thing is did we really expect it? To say someone can and will average one is something, for them to actually be doing it with flying colors is something even more spectacular. 

Westbrook has been nothing short of dominant this season but unfortunately, his team is the 5th seed. 

Nov 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) dribbles the ball against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) dribbles the ball against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

2 – LeBron James – F – Cleveland Cavaliers

Stats: 23.3 PPG, 9.3 APG, 7.7 RPG

I have said this time and time again, but this would not be an accurate MVP race if LeBron James wasn’t listed. The Akron native comes in at No. 2 with his team currently sitting as the No. 1 seed in the East, and is just shy of averaging a triple-double. 

LeBron is LeBron, he is dominant and efficient. His scoring may have slightly dropped so far this season, but his efficiency and peripheral stats are just as good if not better than years past. 

On the court, via the eye test, he is also paving the way for Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to succeed. And if making your teammates better isn’t a qualifier for NBA MVP, than perhaps we should re-think this entire award process. 

Nov 25, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) controls the ball against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 25, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) controls the ball against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

1 – James Harden – G – Houston Rockets

Stats: 28.7 PPG, 11.6 APG, 7.6 RPG

At the beginning of the season, no one thought the Rockets would be good enough for Harden to be in the race, and now in my eyes, he leads it.

Harden has been leading the Rockets offense at an alarming rate and success, even against the elite teams.

The Rockets are currently the 4th seed and coming off of a big OT win against the Warriors.

Harden has been efficient as well as spectacular and is dominating the opposition. James Harden has been nothing short of spectacular this season. 

James Harden and Westbrook have definitely been 1A and 1B as terms of the best players so far this season; Harden’s team is just doing a little better.

With that said, James Harden and Russell Westbrook are respctively carrying their teams at alarming success and at this rate, it would be unfair for one of them to not win the NBA MVP.

Some honorable mentions but their teams just aren’t good enough are DeMarcus Cousins, Giannis Atentokoumpo and Isaiah Thomas.  Did I miss anyone? Let me know!

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