We're just past the halfway mark in the NBA season. Let's take a look at the major awards and the most deserving players so far (this is not who I think is going to win, this is who DESERVES it at this point). Feel free to disagree there are valid arguments that can be made for many players at this point of the season.
RPM - Real Plus Minus (courtesy of espn.com)
DRPM - Defensive Real Plus Minus (courtesy of espn.com)
Stats through 1/17/19 (courtesy of nba.com)
1. Luka Doncic | Wing | Dallas Mavericks
43 GP | 20.2 PPG | 6.7 REB | 5.0 AST | 56.4% TS% | 2.24 (45) RPM
2. Jaren Jackson Jr | F | Memphis Grizzlies
44 GP | 13.2 PPG | 4.7 REB | 1.2 AST | 60.0% TS% | 0.64 (108) RPM
3. DeAndre Ayton | C | Phoenix Suns
45 GP | 16.6 PPG | 10.6 REB | 2.1 AST | 61.6% TS% | -1.17 (249) RPM
Rookie of the year is a complete runaway at this point, and Luka is simply on a different level. His passing is incredible, he gets to the free throw line at a very high rate, and his slow motion step back is unstoppable. Jackson has hit a bit of a shooting slump (down to 33% on threes for the season), but looks like a baby Anthony Davis. He is currently 12th in the NBA averaging 1.8 blocks per game. Ayton is third by default, looks good finishing around the rim, and fits into the Suns no defense culture nicely. I'm aware that RPM isn't a true tell all stat, but it should be worth noting some of the other rookies and their rankings.
Collin Sexton -6.78 475/475, Kevin Knox -5.90 473/475, Mo Bamba -4.53 465/475, Trae Young -3.64 456/475, Marvin Bagley -3.34 450/475
1. Paul George | F | Oklahoma City Thunder
43 GP | 0.5 BLK | 2.3 STL | 42.1% Defensive FG% Overall | 2.95 (10) DRPM
2. Rudy Gobert | C | Utah Jazz
46 GP | 2.0 BLK | 0.9 STL | 56.0% Defensive FG% <6FT | 4.44 (1) DRPM
3. Robert Covington | Wing | Minnesota Timberwolves
35 GP | 1.3 BLK | 2.1 STL | 43.3% Defensive FG% Overall | 2.91 (12) DRPM
George has been a monster defensively, there's no other way to put it. Despite not having Andre Roberson and this season, the Thunder have the best defensive rating in the NBA. It is a defensive award, but George is also the number one option (should be) on offense which usually impacts defensive effort. More credit to him for being able to play at a high level on both sides of the ball. Gobert has stepped up recently defensively, and the Jazz are the 4th best defensive team in the NBA after looking uncharacteristically average to start the season. His recent improvement has coincided with a Jazz hot streak. Covington has turned into one of the best wing defender in the game and deserves to be recognized. The tightest award by far, and a case could easily be made for Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, or even Draymond Green (if you ignore his awful start).
1. Domantas Sabonis | F/C | Indiana Pacers
41 GP | 15.2 PPG | 9.7 REB | 2.9 AST | 66.4% TS% | 2.22 (46) RPM
2. Spencer Dinwiddie | G | Brooklyn Nets
46 GP | 17.0 PPG | 2.5 REB | 5.1 AST | 59.7% TS% | -0.30 (164) RPM
3. Montrezl Harrell | F/C | Los Angeles Clippers
44 GP | 15.9 PPG | 6.8 REB | 1.8 AST | 64.2% TS% | 1.95 (53) RPM
Sabonis is part of an awesome Pacers three big man rotation, and is showing star potential. His ability to pass out of the post is rare for a big man, and can play with both the starters and bench units. Dinwiddie is proving that last season was no fluke, and is dynamite on offense. His efficiency continues to improve, and he currently has an impressive 46/37/80 split. However his defense has taken a major step back which has to count for something. Lou Williams will get noticed for the his pure scoring ability, but Harrell does the dirty work and continues to play at a high level.
1. Pascal Siakam | F | Toronto Raptors
46 GP | 14.9 PPG | 7.0 REB | 2.9 AST | 63.9% TS% | 3.41 (20) RPM
2. DeAaron Fox | PG | Sacramento Kings
45 GP | 17.9 PPG | 3.5 REB | 7.3 AST | 55.8% TS% | 2.28 (48) RPM
3. John Collins | C | Atlanta Hawks
28 GP | 19.1 PPG | 10.4 REB | 2.4 AST | 63.1% TS% | 0.24 (133) RPM
The improvement that Siakam has shown this season is scary, if you haven't heard he only started playing basketball at age 17. In the weakened East, he has a legitimate chance to be an All Star this season. Last season you could have argued that Fox was the worst rotation player in the entire NBA. Not even a 2-1 assist to turnover ratio on 41/30/72 shooting splits. This season he looks like a young John Wall, using his game breaking speed in spurts. His shooting has improved as well (47/37/73 splits), and he looks like he has serious star potential. Collins has been asked to take on a bigger role this season and has not disappointed.
1 James Harden | G | Houston Rockets
41 GP | 35.4 PPG | 6.3 REB | 8.5 AST | 62.1% TS% | 8.21 (1) RPM
2 Giannis Antetokounmpo | F | Milwaukee Bucks
41 GP | 26.4 PPG | 12.5 REB | 6.0 AST | 63.1% TS% | 5.23 (7) RPM
3. Nikola Jokic | C | Denver Nuggets
44 GP | 19.7 PPG | 10.1 REB | 7.5 AST | 58.9% TS% | 6.20 (4) RPM
4. Paul George | F | Oklahoma City Thunder
43 GP | 26.6 PPG | 8.0 REB | 4.0 AST | 57.5% TS% | 6.44 (3) RPM
5. Anthony Davis | C | New Orleans Pelicans
40 GP | 29.4 PPG | 13.5 REB | 4.4 AST | 59.5% TS% | 6.95 (2) RPM
It's extremely difficult to win back to back MVPs but what Harden is doing is absolutely ridiculous. In his last 18 games he's scored 30+ in every game, and is averaging a pedestrian 42.2 points on 9.1 assist. Without Chris Paul, Eric Gordon (who's back), and now Clint Capela, Harden has to carry the Rockets in the ultra competitive West. Giannis would have a legitimate case most seasons, he has the narrative and team success as well. Jokic has been the only mainstay as the Nuggets have battled through a wave of injuries, keeping them atop the standings. George is by far the best two way player on the list, and his play has hid Russell Westbrook's disastrous season from being the headline. By the way Westbrook is averaging a triple double again so why isn't he in the MVP conversation?…(obvious sarcasm). Davis gets the slight edge over LeBron and Curry, as both have missed almost a quarter of the season so far.
G: James Harden | G: Damian Lillard | F Paul George | F Giannis Antetokounmpo| C Anthony Davis
G: Kyrie Irving | G: Stephen Curry | F Kevin Durant | F LeBron James | C Nikola Jokic
G: Kyle Lowry | G: Mike Conley | F: Kawhi Leonard | F: Khris Middleton | C Joel Embiid