Analysis: Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMarcus Cousins lead MVP race

Photo courtesy of | Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, just 22 years old, is making a strong case for MVP this year. The explosive and dynamic “Greek Freak” is averaging nearly 35 points and over 10 rebounds per game. 

The NBA season is in full swing, and with two weeks in the books some players have emerged as front-runners for yearly awards. A word of warning, it is still very early, and a lot can change. However, this is where things stand at this point in time.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has emerged as the leader in the MVP race after winning the Most Improved Player award last season. The Greek native is only 22 years old but averages 34.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2 steals and 1 block per game. This shows he’s one of the best all-around players in basketball.

New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins seems to have flown under the radar to this point, likely due to presence of teammate Anthony Davis. However, Davis has been hurt and slipped in the early race.

Cousins’ averages 32.3 points, 13.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.3 blocks are arguably better than Antetokoumpo’s, even though the latter is considered the frontrunner.

On the rookie front, Philadelphia 76ers 6’10” point guard Ben Simmons is running away with the award, despite strong early performances from the rookie class. Even though Simmons was drafted in the 2016 class, he did not play last season due to a foot injury and is still technically a rookie.

Simmons leads all first-year players in scoring, averaging 17.5 points per contest. He is second in assists with 7.5 per game, only 0.2 behind Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. Simmons is also second in rebounding among rookies, averaging 9.5 per game, only 0.1 behind leader Lauri Markkanen, a rookie for the Chicago Bulls.

Markkanen and Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum are the other two players keeping close to Simmons at this point in the season.

Markkanen, the seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft, is second in scoring with 15.6 points a game, while also leading in rebounds with 9.6 a contest.

Tatum, the third overall pick, is third in scoring with 15.2 points a game and fifth in rebounding with 6.3 a game.

For the Most Improved Player award, Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell is a popular early candidate. Russell was traded from the Lakers to the Nets this offseason and seems to have adjusted well so far.

He is currently averaging 19.8 points and 5.2 assists per game, both of which would be career highs if they hold up throughout the course of the season.

For Coach of the Year, Celtics coach Brad Stevens is an early favorite. Stevens was already on the list of preseason candidates, but with the Gordon Hayward injury, a 50 win season could get him the award.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is another candidate to watch, as the Spurs are playing at a top level despite losing their best player, Kawhi Leonard, to injury.

The NBA season is shaping up to be a fun one with many interesting award battles and storylines to watch, and fans should be excited for a fast-paced and competitive season yet to come.

By: Donnie Menke ~Staff Writer~