As we near the end of the first quarter of the 2013-14 NBA season, I thought I would take a look at how the MVP race is shaping up. Here are my top five candidates through games of December 3, 2013:
1. LeBron James
James is on pace to lead the NBA in both win shares and win shares per 48 minutes for the sixth consecutive season, a feat that thus far has only been achieved by Michael Jordan.
James’ scoring efficiency is off the charts. The best true shooting percentage in history by a player averaging at least 25 points per game is 66.5 percent by Charles Barkley in 1987-88, but James is on pace to break that with his mark of 69.0 percent this season.
2. Paul George
George is having a monster season thus far, and he is the top candidate among the ABB* voters.
*Anybody But ‘Bron
George’s usage percentage has risen sharply, from 23.5 percent last season to 29.5 percent this season. But with that increase has come significant improvement in both his true shooting percentage (up 6.4 percentage points) and his turnover percentage (down 3.5 percentage points).
3. Chris Paul
Paul is averaging 12.1 assists per game, putting him on pace to become the first player since John Stockton in 1994-95 to average 12 or more assists per game.
Paul is also registering an assist on approximately 54.7 percent of his teammates’ field goals while he is on the floor. That would be the fourth-highest assist percentage in NBA history, behind three seasons from John Stockton (57.5 percent in 1990-91, 57.4 percent in 1989-90, and 54.8 percent in 1987-88).
4. Kevin Durant
Durant’s true shooting percentage has dropped quite a bit compared to last season (down 4.4 percentage points), but then again he’s still one of the most efficient scorers in the league.
Durant is on pace to average 28 or more points per game with a true shooting percentage of 60.0 percent or greater for the fourth time in his career, a feat that would tie him with Adrian Dantley and Michael Jordan for the most such seasons in NBA history.
5. Kevin Love
Love started the season on fire but has tailed off the last few weeks. That said, he’s still fifth in the league in win shares and sixth in win shares per 48 minutes.
Love’s assist percentage of 19.5 is a career high. If he can push his assist percentage to 20 and maintain his total rebound percentage (currently 20.3), he would become just the fifth player in NBA history to go 20/20 in those categories, joining Kevin Garnett (2003-04 and 2004-05), Charles Barkley (1996-97), Bill Walton (1977-78), and Tom Boerwinkle (1970-71).by