T his has to be it, right? We have seen the big guys get their turn at the top of the NBA‘s MVP rotation, and no doubt, the numbers put up by Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic in the last three years have been impressive. But no one has been more shortchanged in the voting lately than Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics.
But it may be time to move the NBA’s top award back to the perimeter, and thus far in the season, no one has been better out there than Tatum. Through 14 games, Tatum is averaging 28.2 points on 50.7% shooting, with 9.0 rebounds per game and 4.1 assists. Given the Celtics’ position at the top of the league, he should be the favorite for the MVP.
He probably won’t be there at the end of the season, for a couple of reasons. One, he has had starts like this before but is also susceptible to slumps that erode his numbers a bit. And, two, voters might never give him enough credit because he plays alongside Jaylen Brown and has a star-packed supporting cast with the Boston Celtics.
That’s why Tatum was just fourth in MVP voting last year, and sixth two years ago. He has only been gotten MVP votes one other time, and he finished 12th.
Regardless, he is the best player on the team leading our Week 5 NBA Power Rankings. Let’s get to it.
Week 5 NBA Power Rankings Top 10: Boston Celtics No. 1
- Boston Celtics, (11-3). The Celtics are not old enough to complain about back-to-backs but they looked like a tired team against Charlotte on Monday. They’re now 0-2 in overtime.
- Philadelphia 76ers, (10-3). Good to see Kelly Oubre back at practice after he was hit by a car while walking. Their next six games are all against teams at or above .500.
- Oklahoma City Thunder, (10-4). Young teams usually struggle on the road but not this one. OKC is now 6-1 away from home after sweeping their last three-game trip.
- Minnesota Timberwolves, (10-3). When they move the ball, they’re unstoppable. Wolves are 7-0 when getting 25-plus assists.
- Denver Nuggets, (10-4). Finally got a win on their five-game road trip, narrowly over the sad-sack Pistons with Nikola Jokic and Michael Malone getting ejected.
- Milwaukee Bucks, (10-4). Scoring 130 points on 53% shooting and 41.5% 3-point shooting during their five-game W streak.
- Sacramento Kings, (8-5). Not only are the Kings sitting in the Top 10 but they are expected to be a major BUYER at the trade deadline.
- Phoenix Suns, (7-6). Racked up 134.7 points per game in their last three outings. Bradley Beal (back) is out again, but still, the offense is rolling.
- Los Angeles Lakers, (8-6). They’ve played the second-most one-possession games in the NBA and are 3-1 in them. They’ve had some luck.
- Miami Heat, (9-5). Is it fool’s gold? The Heat are now 7-2 vs. teams below .500 and just 2-3 vs. teams above .500.
Week 5 NBA Power Rankings: Do You Believe in Magic?
The pile of young talent that the Orlando Magic have collected has looked especially promising in the early part of the season, and the Magic scored a nice win over the Pacers in a matchup of two East upstarts on Sunday. They’ve been winning despite dealing with the issues many foresaw — injury concerns (oft-injured Magic starters Markelle Fultz and Wendell Carter are out), woeful 3-point shooting –but they play at their own pace, which is slow, and are sitting on a handful of trade options that they could use if they decide to make a playoff push. They’re a team worth watching.
- Orlando Magic, (8-5).
- New York Knicks, (8-6).
- Dallas Mavericks, (9-5).
- Indiana Pacers, (7-5).
- Houston Rockets, (6-6).
- Cleveland Cavaliers, (7-6).
- Atlanta Hawks, (6-6).
- Brooklyn Nets, (6-7).
- Toronto Raptors, (6-7).
- New Orleans Pelicans, (7-7).
Finally, the Bottom: Warriors Facing Make-or-Break Stretch
At last, a win for the Golden State Warriors. Yes, the Dubs finally came up with a W to end their dreadful six-game losing streak and keep themselves within a game of .500. But the test of this team, and whether it is still a contender in the NBA on par with the one that beat the Boston Celtics in the Finals just 18 months ago, is coming in the next three weeks, with seven games on tap: two in Phoenix, three against the resurgent Clippers, one in Sacramento and what should be a gimme vs. the Spurs.
- Golden State Warriors, (7-8).
- L.A. Clippers, (5-7).
- Utah Jazz, (4-9).
- Chicago Bulls, (5-10).
- Charlotte Hornets, (4-9).
- Portland Trail Blazers, (3-10).
- Memphis Grizzlies, (3-10).
- San Antonio Spurs, (3-11).
- Washington Wizards, (2-11).
- Detroit Pistons, (2-13).