Musings: The NBA’s MVP race is loaded with contenders

Submitted for PSN Trinkets

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the defending NBA champions, but the road to the title clearly goes through Golden State.

The record-setting Warriors are even better than a season ago, and even though the Spurs are playing inspired basketball and the Clippers are becoming one the elite teams in the West, they simply do not match the firepower in Golden State.

The race for the league’s MVP, however, isn’t nearly the foregone conclusion the championship seems to be. Odds in early October favored LeBron James to add another trophy to his growing collection, but Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook stands now the man to beat with an incredible 11 triple-doubles in his first 22 games this season.

Westbrook just became the first player since Oscar Robertson to enter the month of December averaging a triple-double.

The Houston Rockets have seen an early-season resurgence and much of that success can be attributed to the play of James Harden, Westbrook’s former OKC teammate. Harden entered the week fourth in the league in scoring and tops in assists. And his four triple-doubles puts him second in the NBA to Westbrook.

Of course no NBA MVP update is complete without a look at James, a four-time MVP with wins in 2009, ’10, ’12 and ’13.

He has his Cavs on top of the East standings as expected. He is scoring points in bunches and grabbing lots of rebounds, as expected. But one stat of note for LBJ as the season progresses is his career-high 9.4 assists a game.

So as other players in the league step up their game, so is the man that most consider to be the best player in the league.

And then there is Kevin Durant, the biggest story of the offseason when he made a new home for himself in Golden State. He is not, as some suggested when he made the move, just along for the ride with the Warriors as a compliment to Stephon Curry. He is leading the way.

Not only is Durant averaging 27 points per game and a career-high 8.4 rebounds, he is shooting 42 percent from behind the 3-point line. If Durant gets a ring, it won’t be because he mooched off the Warriors. If the Warriors get a ring, it will be because Durant led them to it.

So many great players putting together potentially great seasons in the early going. If you aren’t watching the NBA this season, it’s past time for you to get tuned in.