By Joe Leo
Published: November 28th, 2018
The NBA is a marathon of a season not in the way that baseball is in the day in-day out grind. Basketball is digested so much on social media and in the culture that a month of NBA basketball feels like half a season. With that, here is the WAY too early MVP ballot through one full month in reverse order. And before you say it, I know it’s only been a month…
1. Joel Embiid
For the first time in his young career, Embiid is actually outplaying the gigantic social media personality that he has created for himself. The domination that Embiid has shown over the first month is something that is a monstrous concoction of Jordan’s killer DNA and Shaq’s physical gifts. Embiid is out for blood this year and so far it is working.
For a guy who has missed significant time Embiid has already logged 550+ minutes which leads the league. Embiid also is tied for second in points per game (27.6), tied for third in rebounds (13.7), and is 6th in blocks per game (2.1). What makes his season more impressive than that of Anthony Davis at this point is the combination of his PER and usage rate. Embiid’s PER is basically the same as Davis’—which is impressive but to have a usage rate of 31.7 is just insane. To have the ball 30% of the time in an offensive with Ben Simmons as the primary ball handler is impressive. Also, having a 31.7 usage rate is historic because that is the same usage rate that Shaq had in his most dominate season, the 1999-00 season. That is some seriously good company. If Embiid keeps up at this rate—he will defiantly be a MVP candidate.
2. Anthony Davis
There is not a player in the NBA that is benefiting from the current state of basketball than Anthony Davis. Since the midway point of last season, Davis has played at a level that no NBA player has played at since mid-2000’s Tim Duncan. This level of basketball makes you stop when you pass a television screen, it makes every game he plays appointment television, and it puts a target on your back. Yes, Davis has had a target on his back since he walked on the campus of the University of Kentucky, but right now Davis has shown the world how perfect he is for 2018 basketball.
Davis has always been a rim protector and a presence in the paint, but he hasn’t had the three-point range that he has developed, or the ability to create in the open court. Through the first month of the season there has not been a better player in the game. Davis is averaging 25 points (10th in the league), 12 rebounds (6th), and 3 blocks (tied for 1st) per game. Not only that he is top 10 in PER, which calculates a players per-minute production when he is on the court. The league average for PER is 15.
Davis has been overlooked as a player because of where he plays for the majority of his career but since last March he has played at a level that basketball would find him if he was playing on the moon.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Greek Freak is officially an alien. The things Antetokounmpo can do on the floor are unique and will never be recreated. Just like NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwan, Giannis is a physical freak and can dominate a game like nobody has before. Also, he is only 24-years-old. As incredible as Giannis has been so far this season, there is a possibility he can be even better.
Giannis has a career high shooting percentage at 56% and is top 10 in points per game with 25 (9th), and 12 rebounds per (7th). Gianis is top five in PER with a 26.8 with players like Curry, LeBron, and Durant ahead of him. Like Embiid, Giannis’ usage rate is out of this world for how tall and what kind of player he is. For Antetokounmpo is second in usage rate with a height at 6’11” it is mind blowing. And to see a guy with his height and mobility play basketball the way he does. Only Anthony Davis has the ability that Giannis has to be unequivocally the best player in the world. And, being 24 the rest of the league should run and cower in fear. Right now, Giannis is the MVP.
With 90% of the season to go, it seems comical to hand the award out right now, but these are three players who need to be put under a microscope from this point on.