We may be less than a quarter way into the NBA season, but there is no shortage of stars already putting their hand up for league MVP consideration.
Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum, Dallas Mavericks Luka Doncic, Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo, Cleveland Cavaliers Donovan Mitchell, and Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid are just some names that have been simmering at the top of the discussions early on.
Pierce and Garnett give their top 3
The NBA MVP award remains the most sought-after individual accolade there is during the regular season, and each season presents the opportunity for the league's elite to put their case forth for the award.
The flow-on effect usually stimulates animated discussions between NBA personnel about whom they believe should take home the honors. Long-time championship teammates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have wasted no time choosing their early frontrunners.
Garnett: "Who do you think are the early leading candidates for MVP?"
Pierce: "Currently, in no particular order Jayson Tatum, he's leading the top team in all of the NBA right now record-wise. He is playing both sides of the ball. It's starting to get thick because after Embiid went for that 59, he got himself back in the race. He's averaging 30 and 11, Sixers have been balling.
After that, you can say, Luka, you can say 'Greek Freak', it's just so hard man, but for that third slot, I'm going to say Greek Freak because I know over the course of 82 games he's going to be there at the end. On his bad days, he's going to give you 28 and 11. So those are my top three currently."
Garnett: "I got Luka in that conversation just because he's been consistent. 30 points for 8 games, 9 games, this is my top three. I have Luka in that conversation. Jayson Tatum is in there; Jayson Tatum is probably my leading MVP right now. Just because of how consistent he is, and the fact that he has been making defensive plays late in the end of games, and putting forth the effort, I've got him as the leading candidate right now.
And then I got Spida man. I know he's missed the last games and whatever, but Spida Mitchell before he got hurt and all that he was on his way, he was just making noise and putting Cleveland in a position to where we were starting to pay attention a little more. I have to give honorable mention to Embiid."
It's anyone's for the taking
If anyone understands what it takes to be an MVP, it's Pierce and Garnett since they both lifted either a regular season or Finals MVP award in their careers.
Given what has transpired in this campaign, it's reasonable to accept all the names mentioned as worthy.
Tatum is leading the team with the best record in the league, Doncic is averaging close to a triple-double, Mitchell has made the Cavaliers realistic contenders, Antetokounmpo is a walking double-double, and Embiid is fresh off one of the greatest individual performances in recent NBA history going for 59 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 blocks in a victory over the Utah Jazz.
It may be too soon to crown a winner, but it's safe to say these stars are already starting to separate themselves from the chasing pack.