When it comes to MVP talk, it's never too early to speculate. Yes, the list will change a lot throughout the season but it's not just about how your start or how you finish. It's about all 82 games.
The key with MVP winners, based on recent returns of the 10 previous seasons, is that their team has to win about 70% of their games -- a top three team in the conference -- to win.
Last year's winner Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, his team won 67 games (81.7%); Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder won 59 games (71.9%); LeBron James won 66 (80.5%) and 46 (69.6%) during the lockout-shortened season with the Miami Heat; Derrick Rose led the Chicago Bulls to 62 wins (75.6%); James twice in a row again with the Cleveland Cavaliers with 61 (74.4%) and 66 (80.5%); Kobe Bryant led the L.A. Lakers to 57 (69.5%); Dirk Nowitzki sparked the Dallas Mavericks to 67 (81.7%); and Steve Nash had the lowest total wins with the Phoenix Suns at 54 (65.9%).
Based on how the season has started, here are my magnificent seven performers and how I'd rank them (entering Thursday's games):
7. Kevin Durant, Thunder
Stats: 29.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.6 blocks, 49.5% FG, 41.2% 3-pt
The skinny: OKC could be the best team in the West, which alone could catapult Durant to the top of the list. But the drawback is that he could split votes with a teammate.
6. John Wall, Wizards
Stats: 20.8 points, 8.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 2.3 blocks, 44.3% FG
The skinny: His assists are down because he has had to score more but it's what Wall is doing in the fourth quarters, and defensively, which isn't necessarily reflected. Like Durant, he could lose votes because he has a teammate that's on fire, too.
5. Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Stats: 19.2 points, 6.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 44.8% FG, 43.5% 3pt FG
The skinny: Now that he's healthy, and lighter, Lowry is quarterbacking the East's best team. That alone is enough to put him in the conversation.
4. Bradley Beal, Wizards
Stats: 25.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 47.5% FG, 46.4% 3pt FG
The skinny: Leads the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring (10.3) and is starting to get to the foul line more often which also is responsible for him being 10 points above last season's average.
3. Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Stats: 28.6 points, 10.6 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 49.5% FG, 36.7% 3pt FG
The skinny: When Kevin Durant calls you the best player on the team, that says something. Westbrook's ball distribution is at a career high and it hasn't negatively impacted his scoring. His only drawback is 6.0 turnovers.
2. Andre Drummond, Pistons
Stats: 20.3 points, 19.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 1.8 steals, 49.2% FG
The skinny: Drummond gets 7.5 offensive boards per game, which is responsible for such high early returns. His points average would be much higher if he shot better than 57.6% from the foul line.
1. Stephen Curry, Warriors
Stats: 35.8 points, 5.8 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 57.4% FG shooting, 51.9% 3pt FGs. 94.6% FTs
The skinny: He'll easily repeat at this pace with the 2015 champs. And to make his numbers pop even more, Curry is playing the fewest minutes of anyone on this list (31.9).
MORE WIZARDS: Wall, Beal vault into NBA's top 5 in 4th-quarter scoring