The Top 5 this week in the 2020-21 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder:
**1. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Season stats: 24.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 7.9 apg, 1.0 spg
No one would have blamed LeBron for easing into season No. 18 after an abbreviated offseason after leading the Lakers to the title in the Orlando bubble. But the old man (36 qualifies in the NBA) has been as his brilliantly consistent best in the early stages of this season. Even on a night when the Lakers saw their four-game win streak snapped by the San Antonio Spurs, LeBron’s performance (27 points, 12 a*sists and six rebounds, his third game this season with 20 or more points and 10 or more assists) shines. He’s set such a ridiculously high standard for himself and the rest of the crowd that follows on this list.
**2. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Season stats: 27.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 8.0 apg, 1.0 spg
Luka Doncic lit up the Nuggets for 38 points on Thursday night.
Doncic put his full arsenal on display in Thursday’s overtime win over the Denver Nuggets and MVP candidate Nikola Jokic. He self-corrected in game. After piling up eight turnovers entering the fourth quarter, he had none after that. Doncic also scored nine points in overtime to fuel the win and piled up a season-high 13 a*sists, controlling the game down the stretch. As good as Doncic has been, he’s still perfecting his ability to manipulate the action.
**3. Paul George, LA Clippers
Season stats: 24.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.6 spg
Paul George poured in 39 points in a loss to the Suns.
After a brutal finish in the Orlando bubble and an abbreviated offseason as a superstar piñata, George has gotten back on track early for a stout Clippers team (that 51-point loss to Dallas notwithstanding). He’s playing at his usual elite level on both ends and at his current pace will chase the 50-40-90 holy grail of shooting in 2020-21. He vowed to bounce back with a vengeance this season and so far, so good. Kawhi Leonard remains the Clippers’ biggest name and best player, but George has been LA’s catalyst.
**4. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Season stats: 24.6 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.8 bpg, 1.1 spg
Joel Embiid was dominant in a win against the Wizards.
Embiid and the Sixers were cooking, a league-best 7-1, before they were ambushed by the Kyrie Irving-and Kevin Durant-less Brooklyn Nets Thursday night. The league’s best defense, with Embiid as the anchor, was shredded. But one game doesn’t erase a fantastic start to the season for Embiid in his first run under coach Doc Rivers. These first nine games have provided an excellent glimpse of what Embiid and the Sixers are capable of if he can consistently dominate the competition the way his talent suggests.
**5. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Season stats: 29.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.0 spg
Take a look back at Stephen Curry’s 62-point game.
Anyone wondering what type of f*ght Curry and the Warriors had in them after a rocky start to the season got their answer Sunday when the former two-time MVP torched the Portland Trail Blazers for a career-high 62 points in just 36 minutes. The Warriors are far from the juggernaut they were three seasons ago, but Curry is still as dangerous a shooter/scorer as there is in the league. And given the absence of Klay Thompson, there will be plenty of opportunities for Curry to heat up the way he did against the Trail Blazers.