NBA MVP Power Rankings Week 3: Does Mitchell make the cut?

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images /

Honorable Mention: Donovan Mitchell; team record 3-5

Year of the Spider commenced in The Land with Mitchell ripping defenses, setting personal bests in scoring and field goal percentage after seven outings. The team’s record sitting in below .500 territory negatively affects his nomination despite it being battered by injuries already. He would need to keep up his production while the Cavaliers finish with at least 50 wins just for consideration, but with how the race is going this season, that likely isn’t enough.

It doesn’t help his case either that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander arguably outplayed him twice in Oklahoma City’s wins over the Cavaliers. Yet, what Don has working for him is that he assists on 27.7% of his teammates’ baskets, and he converts 78.3% of his tries in the restricted area. From 0-3 feet is where 30% of his attempts are generated, the second-highest of his shot chart.

2. Stephen Curry; team record 6-3

Did you know that Curry’s teammates have only logged 20 or more points in a game once this year? It was Dario Šarić (20 ) in Golden State’s Nov. 3 win in Oklahoma City. Curry hasn’t dropped less than 21 in a match, and his efficiency numbers are cartoonish. His true shooting percentage (accounts for triples, twos and free throws) sits at 71.6 and his effective field goal percentage (combining twos and threes) is at 67.2. Keep in mind, this dude will turn 36 on March 14 and is still putting up 30 points per game.

Andrew Wiggins hasn’t looked right, but coach Steve Kerr has said he’s not worried about his team’s No.2 guy. He’s averaging 10.8 points on a ghastly 40% shooting with 15% marks behind the arc. Eventually, he will snap out of it, but it should boost Curry’s case if he keeps up this historic production while Wiggins stays in a funk.

1. Nikola Jokić; team record 8-1

The Joker makes basketball look too easy. Through nine games, he’s averaging 29.1 points, making 62.2% of his attempts with 12.9 rebounds and eight assists nightly. He is the driving force behind the league’s second-highest-rated attack while conducting nearly a third of his team’s offense. On Monday against the New Orleans Pelicans, he registered his 33rd career triple-double before the fourth quarter. Michael Jordan only had 28 of the sort, per Katy Winge of Altitude TV.

Jokić’s outlet passing pushes the pace, his screening gets everyone open and his post-arsenal is indecipherable. Brains separate him from the pack. Over the summer, Denver was expected to drop off after losing Bruce Brown to Indiana and Jeff Green to Houston in free agency, plus Vlatko Čančar tore his ACL in FIBA competition, but the Nuggets haven’t missed a beat without them.

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The best defenders in the world can’t stop him one-on-one. If you ask Anthony Davis, he’ll cite permitting six baskets in nine tries on opening night. The current Defensive Player of the Year, Jaren Jackson Jr., allowed him nine points on 60% shooting on Oct. 27, too. The league used to have this problem with LeBron James in his prime- the solution was waiting him out and/or assembling an all-time roster to take out his squad. With all the ways the Joker impacts winning, he’s graduated to that level.