from Bryson Gordon with GreensboroSports.com by way of GTCC/VCS:
Top 10 2015-2016 NBA early MVP candidates
10. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies, Center
Hard to think of a big man winning MVP in the NBA today, where the game is long gone from its big man roots. In a guard heavy league it would be a huge shocker to see a center win the award but Gasol has the ability to put up the numbers. Last season, Gasol averaged 17 points and nearly 8 boards a game, while leading the Grizzlies to the playoffs. He is certainly capable of doing that again.
9. John Wall, Washington Wizards, Guard
John Wall has proven to the Wizards that he was worth the number one selection in 2010. Every year in the league he has improved, and he can certainly play at a MVP caliber level. He has the Wizards contending in the East by averaging 17 points and 10 assists. If Wall can boost that to 22-23 points a game, he can be a real challenger for the award.
8. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, Guard
Chris Paul may no longer be the best guard in the league, but he is still top three. Paul finished 6th in MVP voting last year in just another year averaging 19 points and 10 assists. Paul is on a team where he can definitely up the assist number, so I definitely would not consider Paul a sleeper for this award. He has every bit of potential to win this award.
7. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, Guard
I don’t want everybody coming at my neck on this one. Westbrook was phenomenal last year and was a frontrunner for the award for a stretch of the season by averaging 28 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists, but last year the Thunder played without former MVP Kevin Durant for a majority of the season. Westbrook will not be asked to put up the numbers he did last season, so I have him lower on my list due to that reason.
6. Paul George, Indiana Pacers, Forward
PG13 was out most of last season due to a gruesome leg injury he suffered playing for Team USA. Before George went out, many questioned if he could challenge LeBron James as the best player in the league. All signs point that George is back 100 percent, and will play all season. George is the kind of player that can average 24 points and 8 rebounds, which are easily MVP numbers. I am expecting a big season from George.
5. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, Forward
Love him, hate him, or REALLY hate him, he is the best player on the planet, and maybe the best since Michael Jordan donned the Bulls red. LeBron is lower on my list, because he does not have to do as much as he used to. LeBron is every bit capable of scoring 30 points and snatching 12 boards any given night, but with Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving, it is not required. LeBron will put together a phenomenal season, but will not be enough for MVP.
4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans, Forward
This one hurts Hornets fans, but we are not here to talk about a lottery conspiracy. Anthony Davis has quickly turned into one of the most impressive NBA players since young LeBron. Davis can knock down a jumper, dominate in the paint, and there are videos circulating that he can now stroke it from deep. Davis averaged 24 points and 10 boards in only his THIRD season. Not to mention that he is only 22, he is still growing as a player. I expect an ever better season from Davis this upcoming year.
3. James Harden, Houston Rockets, Guard
Chef Harden ran out of sauce in the playoffs, but it did not dim his exceptional regular season. Since Harden left OKC his numbers have jumped astronomically. He had his best statistical season last averaging 27 points and 7 assists. Many people believe that he should have won last year, but nobody can dispute that he is a top candidate this season.
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, Guard
Kind of cool that 3 of the top 10 (Steph, John Wall, and CP3) have heavy ties to North Carolina! Steph is the reigning MVP which automatically puts him towards the top of the list, but there are a lot of players coming for his trophy. If Stephen can recreate the 24 points and 7 rebounds he had last season he should not have a whole lot of problems repeating as MVP.
1.Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder, Forward
Did everybody forget the 2013-2014 MVP even existed? While everybody was quick to call Steph Curry the best player on the planet, we all forgot the guy averaged 32 points per game in the 2013-2014 season. Durant missed 55 games with a lingering foot injury, that ultimately needed surgery. In the games Durant played last year he still averaged 25 points, making that NINE straight seasons averaging 25 points or more. I think the MVP award is KD’s to lose, and at the end of the season, I think that KD will be the best player in the NBA, and the Thunder will be NBA champions.