NBA: Top 5 players this season

As another NBA regular season winds down, MVP discussions start to heat up while the top five players are voted on. Here are five guys that will be on the tips of everyone’s tongues this month.

Stephen Curry

Win Shares 8.8

Year after year Stephen Curry is the most efficient scorer in the league. After missing ten games this year he is still second in three pointers made. Though his efficiency has decreased slightly from two point range he has still had an elite year across the board. He is one of only three players to hit 50% from two, 40% from three and 90% from the line.

Curry is still the best shooter in the league and one of the top scorers also. His 28 points a game is ranked third in the league. Still an excellent passer, Curry has averaged five assists a game this year. His defense has also been passable on a Warriors team that has allowed a lot more points this season. Curry’s deep shooting changes the geometry on the floor, meaning teams have to guard him as soon as he steps over half court. As long as he scores at his current efficiency he will be a top ten player in the league.

The Warriors have the West’s best record and Curry has been the biggest reason for this.

Paul George

Win Shares 11.2

Paul George is having one of the best two-way seasons in recent memory. Scoring at a career high while playing elite defense, George has made the leap from perennial All-Star to top five player in the league. Russell Westbrook still controls OKC’s offense but its George who takes all the shots now.

George has scaled his offense up by taking significantly more three pointers. He is one of only five players to hit 200 three pointers while maintaining 38% or more accuracy. Though OKC have fallen recently in the standings, when George is at his best they are one of the top teams in the league. With the regular season almost completed George is averaging 28 points with eight rebounds and four assists.

HIs lockdown perimeter defense limits some of the leagues best scorers. He leads the league in steals, loose balls recovered and deflections. Coach Billy Donovan’s system has brought out the best in George this season and he will be looking to bring these career highs into the post season.

Joel Embiid

Win Shares 8.5

Joel Embiid is having his best season in the NBA this year. He has been the best player on a Philadelphia 76ers team that will win fifty games two years in a row. A candidate for Defensive Player of the year as well as All-NBA first team, Embiid has earned his max salary extension.

Embiid’s impressive offensive package has been on full show this year as he averaged 27.5 points a game. This is good enough for fourth in the league, while being second in the league in rebounds at 13.7 a game. Though his three pointer hasn’t been dropping, he gets to the line at will and is second in the league in made free throws.

On defense, Embiid has embraced the switch heavy league and defended all the way out to the periemeter. Under the basket he also averages 1.9 blocks a game. Embiid loves to trash talk the opposition, but this year he has backed it up and is now a top five player in the league.

James Harden

Win Shares 14.6

James Harden has averaged an insane 36 points game this season, this has only been done once since the 1960s. With co-stars Chris Paul and Clint Capela both missing significant time, Harden put the Houston Rockets on his back and has dragged them all the way to a potential two seed in the West.

Leading the league in Win Shares and Box Plus Minus, he also has the highest PER and most free throws made. Not just the statistical leader in most categories, he has made clutch shots when his team has needed him most. In clutch situations with under two minutes on the clock his field goal percentage is a strong 44%.

In a close MVP race with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Hardens durability and unrelenting scoring may give him the edge and a back to back MVP award.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Win Shares 13.8

Not since the days of prime Charles Barkley has the league seen such efficient volume scoring around the rim. Giannis has thrown down a crazy 273 dunks this season and averages 65% inside the three point line.

The Milwaukee Bucks have 59 wins already, and are on track for the one seed and their best season since the days of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Coach Mike Budenholzer’s system of surrounding Giannis with four shooters has catapulted him into the NBA’s elite. His all round passing game and elite defense is a nightmare match-up for most front courts.

His 27.4 points a game is good for fifth in the league while he has the second best PER. He has the best defensive rating which puts him firmly in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year. Be it chase down blocks or steals, Giannis long strides and other worldly reach are an opposing coaches worst nightmare.

With the season coming to an end Giannis is locked into a two horse race for MVP with James Harden. A strong finish to the season may mean he lifts the trophy for the first time in June.

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