Okay, so considering how relatively open the race is this year we should probably have a thread about this. I can't remember the last time an MVP race has been this open going into the season and to a lesser extent at this far in. At the moment these are the players who I think you could make the argument deserves recognition as the mvp: 1. James Harden Why he's MVP: D'antoni's system has completely re contextualized him as a player and He's playing the best ball of his career while leading a mediocre team without star power to a far better record than you could've expected. Has advanced stats are mindblowing and back up the raw numbers he's putting up in games. Harden recently made the claim that he's the best player in the NBA and while I disagree with him, I think it's hard to argue that he's playing like it right now. Why he isn't: His defense is still suspect at best and outright terrible at worst. You also have wonder whether HOU is going to be able to keep up its level of play considering how little star power they actually have on hand. 2. Russell Westbrook Why he's MVP: Putting up arguably the best raw numbers of any player we've seen since Oscar. He also has the narrative of any other player in the league. The fact that his team is also doing better than expected also helps his case. Why he isn't: At closer inspection a lot of his numbers lose some of their luster. His advanced metrics simply aren't as good as some of the other players on this list and while OKC is doing relatively well for themselves, their regular season record is going to be hurting his case when compared to other contenders. You also have to wonder if Westbrook will be able to continue at this pace, considering how how hard he plays and how high his usage rate is. 3. Lebron James Why he's MVP: 'Cause this time bitches know. Absolutely reasserted himself as the best player in the world this June and that's going to be hard for people to overlook while he's playing on an absolutely elite team, barring a truly earthshattering claim a la what we saw from Curry last year. Being the top dawg on one of the two best teams in the league and a guaranteed finals spot doesn't hurt either. His consistency is going to help him against guys like Westbrook who you have to imagine will need to come up for air at some point. Why he isn't: Statistically not his strongest season, and voter fatigue could still be an issue. The fact he's clearly coasting and conserving himself could also hurt his narrative compared to guys like Westbrook and Harden. 4. Kevin Durant Why he's MVP: Currently at the helm of the greatest offense in NBA history and posting utterly unheard of shooting numbers in terms of efficiency. His defensive numbers are strong as well and the fact that what many thought would be an atrocious defensive team has overachieved in that regard helps his case. Also, best record in the league. Why he isn't: the absolute dirt worst narrative of any mvp candidate ever. Tons of people are going to be loathe to vote for him, and IMO deservedly so. There are also the cold hard facts of the matter that he's effectively Joining a two-time mvp and two more all star callibre players, so while he is absolutely the best player on the team, there's a lot of glory that has to be shared. Also, fuck him. 5. Kawhi Leonard Why he's MVP: Beast of a two way player and probably the best defensive player in the league over an entire season. His offensive game hes evolved spectacularly and him into the best two way player in the league (you heard me, Klay), and for the first time in his career he is unequivocally the leader of his team, both on and off the floor. Like LeBron, his consistency is going to help him in staying relevant throughout the season, along with the spurs being its usual 55-65 win self. Why he isn't: everyone always forgets the Spurs, and while his numbers are fantastic, he's going to struggle making himself noticed compared to the gaudy performances of the other candidates. If the spurs end up taking the top spot there's a case to be made but that is going to be very hard this year. Feel free to bring up other players who should be part of the discussion as the season goes on.