We are officially through a quarter of the NBA season, so its time to check in with the top players at each position. Over the course of this week, the 76th Sense team will rank the Top 5 players at the guard, forward, and center positions. Let’s jump into our Top 5 guards in the NBA so far this year.
1. Stephen Curry
Stats: 30 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 51% FG, 50% 3PT
Although Curry has missed 11 games this season, he’s been the best player on the floor when active. His 30 points per game are his most since his MVP campaign in 2016. He is shooting a career-high 50% from beyond the arc! Oh yeah, and the Warriors are 14-3 when Curry’s on the floor.
Right now, Curry has the best odds of all guards to win the MVP at 8/1. However, his odds could be in serious jeopardy if he misses any more time this season. Only six players have won the MVP appearing in less than 70 games (and one of them was Karl Malone in the shortened lockout season). If Curry can log 65+ games this year (can only miss 6 more) and keeps up this blistering pace, he’ll be in heavy consideration to win his 3rd MVP, joining Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Moses Malone as the only other three-time winners.
2. Damian Lillard
Stats: 27 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 44% FG, 37% 3PT
Lillard is currently experiencing career-highs in points, rebounds, and field goal percentage. He is also ranked 10th in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and 6th in Estimated Wins Added (EWA). Many expected the Trail Blazers to take a step back this season as they failed to make any major moves last offseason. However, Lillard’s strong season has helped lead Portland to a 15-11 record and they sit 3 games behind the Warriors for first place is the Western Conference.
3. James Harden
Stats: 30 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 44% FG, 37% 3PT
Harden’s 30 points per game match his career-high set during his MVP campaign last year. He already has three 40-point games and a 54-point performance against the Wizards in November. However, his defense has been abysmal. He is currently the worst ranked defender on the Houston Rockets, who have the 25th ranked defense in the NBA. Not surprisingly, the Rockets are 11-14 and in second-to-last in the Western Conference.
4. Kemba Walker
Stats: 26 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 1.5 steals, 44% FG, 35% 3PT
Kemba has been a revelation this season in a pivotal contract year. He’s led the Hornets to a 13-13 record which currently has them 7th in the Eastern Conference. The Hornets also have a +3.3 point differential, 8th in the NBA. Kemba’s 60-point performance against the Sixers on Nov 17th, marks the most points scored by any player this season. Walker seems to have taken a leap this year and he is in line for a full-max contract this upcoming offseason.
5. Jimmy Butler
Stats: 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 48% FG, 40% 3PT
Butler entered the season hoping for a trade from the Timberwolves, citing his teammates’ lackadaisical work ethic and his desire to win. He was granted his wish in November with a trade to the Sixers. Many questioned Butler’s leadership style, however you cannot question his ability with the basketball. Butler is shooting a career-high from beyond the arc for a team that desperately needs a floor spacer. The Sixers acquired Butler hoping for a player that could get them a bucket when they needed it the most. Jimmy ingratiated himself to the Philly fans hitting two game-winners in his first seven games. Since 2015-2016, Butler is behind only Russell Westbrook for the most game-winners with 10 seconds or less in the entire NBA. Butler has a chance to move up the guard rankings if he can continue his strong play for the Sixers.