With the first quarter of the 2018-19 NBA season in the books, it’s becoming easier to predict which players and teams will be able to sustain their early success and which top performers will come back down to Earth.
Each week, HoopsHype ranks the Top 10 candidates for this season’s Most Valuable Player award. While a lot can change between now and the end of the season, this list gives you an idea of which NBA stars are playing at an elite level and putting themselves in position to seriously compete for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
The MVP award is selected by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters after the season ends. Here are this week’s rankings:
10. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Stats: 22.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 9.5 apg, 2.0 spg, 46.8 FG%
This is the first time that Westbrook has been featured in our MVP rankings this season, mainly because he was dealing with a sprained ankle that sidelined him for eight of Oklahoma City’s 22 games. But now that he’s back and putting up jaw-dropping numbers as usual, he cracked our Top 10.
With his 107th career triple-double, Westbrook recently tied Jason Kidd for third-most in NBA history. Now, he only trails Magic Johnson (138) and Oscar Robertson (181) to become the all-time leader. Last year, Westbrook became the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double over the course of a season more than once.
In addition to his crazy stats, the Thunder are 10-4 in games that he’s played. On the season, Oklahoma City is 15-7, which puts them in the Western Conference’s third seed behind only the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers. OKC is just half a game out from the top seed.
Westbrook has decreased his turnovers to 4.1 per game this season, which is good to see. Over the past four campaigns, he’d averaged 4.7 turnovers per game – including 5.4 per game during his MVP season in 2016-17. The 30-year-old must improve his three-point shooting or start taking fewer attempts, as he’s attempting 4.8 threes per game and making just 22.4 percent of those shots.
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