The old guard
10. Kevin Durant
9. Kawhi Leonard
8. Lebron James
Seeing these three legends still performing at a top-10 level at this stage of their careers is inspiring. Not only are they healthier than they have been in the last few years, but they are also playing close to their prime levels. Durant had to carry a bigger offensive burden than he initially thought due to injuries to Bradley Beal and Devin Booker. The Phoenix Suns may have underwhelmed so far, but KD is still averaging over 30 points on 64% True Shooting on 32.4% usage rate.
Kawhi Leonard hasn’t missed a single game all season, carrying the Los Angeles Clippers to a 14-10 record amidst the efforts to integrate James Harden. The Clippers are 13.5 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor, and Leonard has looked much better over the past two weeks. He could climb up even more in the next edition of these rankings.
Lebron James not only won the In-Season Tournament MVP, but he is also making a strong case for his fifth regular season MVP. He is having one of the most efficient seasons of his career with 54.5% from the field and over 40% from three, while scoring 25 points per game. His usage rate and scoring are probably not enough to crack the top-5 but doing this at 39 is absolutely ridiculous.
The new guard
7. Jayson Tatum
6. Luka Doncic
5. Tyrese Haliburton
Tatum has been consistently excellent on the most dominant team in the NBA. He brings high-level two-way production, contributing to the Boston Celtics’ success on both ends of the floor. The Celtics outscore their opponents by 9.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. However, the fact that they have the same net rating with him off the floor hurts his case a little bit.
Luka Doncic has a 15-8 record in the 23 games he played in. Considering the lack of high-level talent next to him, that is impressive. He is averaging 32.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 9.1 assists per game, while leading one of the best offenses in the league. Dallas’ net rating with him on the court is only +2.7, and for Doncic to have a stronger case, he needs to be able to carry his team to greater heights.
Haliburton is also carrying his team offensively, as the Indiana Pacers are the best offensive team in the NBA so far. Despite a limited roster, Haliburton has carried the Pacers to a 12-9 record when he played and to the championship game of the In-Season Tournament. Combining elite level playmaking (12 assists per game) with one of the most efficient scoring seasons (65.9% True Shooting) in the league, he is a deserving top-5 MVP candidate, but not quite the cream of the crop.
So, who has been the best of the best so far?