NBA MVP Ladder: LeBron James Is Coming On Strong; Westbrook Still Leads

Nov 28, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts during the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 28, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts during the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Another month of NBA basketball is in the books. If the season ended today, how would the MVP race look?

The NBA’s Most Valuable Player award is a prestigious award that ultimately determines the best player from the NBA regular season. There are countless variables that go into winning the award, but the two main ones are winning and individual performance.

While there are many cases for many different players, the biggest factor taken into consideration is winning.

Since 1988, no NBA MVP has belonged to a team outside of the top two teams, in wins, in his respective conference. As much as winning is looked at, individual performance plays a large role as well.

The NBA MVP Ladder is a snapshot of the season. In other words, if the season ended today this is how the players would rank in the MVP race.

With that being said, let’s get to it.

Nov 6, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) dribbles the ball past Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the second half at Air Canada Centre. The Kings won 96-91. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable Mentions:

Isaiah Thomas– Boston Celtics

Stats: 26.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 0.8 steals

Record: 10-7

Previous Ranking: 8th

DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors

Stats: 29.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 steals

Record: 11-6

Previous Ranking: 7th

DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings

Stats: 28.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.1 blocks.

Record: 7-11

Previous Ranking: Honorable Mention

Damien Lillard – Portland Trailblazers

Stats: 28.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 0.8 steals

Record: 9-10

Previous Ranking: 5th

Nov 29, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) reacts against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

10 – Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans

Stats: 32.1 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.8 steals , 2.8 blocks

Record: 7-12

Previous Ranking: Honorable Mention

Anthony Davis is literally carrying the New Orleans Pelicans on his shoulders. Davis is averaging the most points per game, and most blocks per game in the NBA.

While we have seen some video game stat lines from the 6-foot-11 power forward, the thing that separates the all time greats from the rest is being able to carry a team to the postseason.

With starting point guard Jrue Holiday back in the rotation, the Pelicans have some catching up to do if they want to try to sneak into the 8th seed.

Nov 17, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) calls a play as he dribbles up the court during the first quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

9– Jimmy Butler – Chicago Bulls

Stats: 25.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.6 steals 

Record: 10-6

Previous Ranking: Honorable Mention

Jimmy Butler is having an amazing season thus far, and he is doing so while flying under most people’s radar.

Coming into the NBA, Jimmy Butler was a three-and-D player, now he is one of the best two-way players in the league.

Playing alongside two ball dominant guards in Chicago, in Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, Butler is putting up MVP caliber numbers and doing so while leading the Bulls to an 10-6 start.

Nov 18, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. The Clippers defeated the Kings 121-115. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

8 – Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers

Stats: 21.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.2 steals , 0.6 blocks

Record: 14-5

Previous Ranking: 10th

Blake Griffin has moved up in the MVP race as he and fellow teammate Chris Paul have led the Clippers to a 14-5 start (which included an 11-1 spurt).

There is a clear difference in the most important player on a team and the best player. That is just the case in Los Angeles, as Chris Paul is the more important to the team, but Griffin is easily having a better season numbers wise.

Either way you look at it, the Clippers have a dangerous duo and have proven they can play with anyone in the league.

Nov 21, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) dribbles the ball in the first half of the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Golden State beat Indiana 120-83. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

7– Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors

Stats: 26.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 steals

Record: 16-2

Previous Ranking: N/A

Alongside teammate Kevin Durant who is also in the NBA MVP race, Stephen Curry is still having an incredible season.

Stephen Curry is not only having an incredible season, but it is equally as impressive how he has made room for another MVP caliber player in Durant, and not taken a huge hit to his own game.

Curry and Durant have led the Warriors to a 16-2 start, and are currently on a 12 game win streak, and they aren’t looking back.

Nov 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) brings the ball up court against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

6– Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers

Stats: 17.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 2.8 steals

Record: 14-5

Previous Ranking: N/A

Chris Paul has made a remarkable jump in the MVP ladder. As he is one of the most fearless leaders in the NBA, Paul is making his presence known when it comes to MVP talks.

The Clippers are currently on a three game skid, however before that they went on an 11-1 spurt. While Paul may not put up the most eye-popping stat lines, he gets the job done in crunch time just as good as anyone.

With fellow teammate Blake Griffin also in the MVP race, the Clippers are out to prove they can contend with anyone in the league.

Nov 25, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) brings the ball up court during the second half of the San Antonio Spurs 109-103 win over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

5 – Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs

Stats: 24.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.1 steals , 0.5 blocks

Record: 14-4

Previous Ranking: 2nd

Kawhi Leonard has continued to impress and show how much his game has expanded this year. Arguably on of the best 2-way players in the NBA, Kawhi means business.

The San Antonio Spurs have yet to lose a game on the road this year, led by Leonard, the Spurs are once again proving they are not to be messed with, even on the road.

Leonard seems to be a shoe in for the defensive player of the year award thus far in the NBA season. However, the MVP race is a whole different beast.

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

4– James Harden – Houston Rockets

Stats: 28.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 11.9 assists, 1.3 steals , 1.3 steals

Record: 11-7

Previous Ranking: 6th

James Harden has put the Rockets on his shoulders, currently he leads the NBA in assists per game. Which is impressive considering he is naturally a shooting guard.

The Rockets are currently in 5th place in the Western Conference. The Rockets have set several records this year revolving around the three-point line. Against the Kings, the Rockets attempted 50 three pointers as a team, setting a new NBA record.

Against the Mavericks, the Rockets broke the NBA record for most consecutive games (17) of making at least 10 three-point field goals.

Will James Harden be able to keep his teammates hot from beyond the arc? Only time will tell as the three-point line  will ultimately decide the fate of the Houston Rockets.

November 25, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) moves the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

3– Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors

Stats: 27.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.6 steals , 1.6 blocks

Record: 16-2

Previous Ranking: 4th

Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors caught fire and haven’t looked back. Durant has emerged as the go to guy for Steve Kerr and the Warriors.

The Warriors have won 12 games in a row, and are beginning to look like the exact team everyone thought they would, an unstoppable force.

Durant has led the charge for the Warriors, whether it’s a crunch time situation or just another play, Durant is clearly the Warriors go to guy.

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 – Cleveland Cavaliers

Stats: 23.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 9.3 assists, 1.1 steals , 0.5 blocks

Record: 13-3

Previous Ranking: 3rd

LeBron James is a freight train that seems to never run out of coal. Not only has James been getting his teammates more involved this year, but he is doing so and continues to be one of the most efficient players in the NBA.

Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving have taken off this year in terms of production. Kevin Love posted a 34 point 1st quarter against the Trail Blazers, however it was LeBron who finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists.

Against the 76ers, Kyrie Irving exploded for 39 points, but once again it was LeBron who posted a 26 point, 13 assist, 10 rebound stat line.

Nov 28, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts during the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

1– Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder

Stats: 30.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, 11.3 assists, 1.3 steals , 1.3 steals

Record: 11-8

Previous Ranking: 1st

While the Oklahoma City Thunder are not one of the best teams in the league from a record perspective. I think it is obvious that they have the player most deserving of the MVP award.

Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double, something that has not happened since 1962. Not only is Westbrook putting up video game numbers, he is doing it night in and night out.

Although the vast majority of previous NBA MVP award winners have come from the teams at the top of their respective conference, this year might be a bit different.

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