Who will be this season’s scoring champ?

Who will emerge as this season's scoring champion?

NBA.com’s writers will be weighing in each week on the most important topics surrounding the league.

Eight players average more than 29.5 points per match through Sunday’s games. Who will be the season’s NBA scoring champion?

STEVE ASCHBURNER These are my top three choices:

1. Luka Doncic, Dallas

2. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City

3. Steph Curry, Golden State

Doncic has all the ingredients to win his first scoring title. He leads the league at 33.5 points per game through Monday. The Mavericks, which he plays for, are built around him like if his last name was Nowitzki. His field-goal attempts, usage rate, and field-goal attempts are all career highs, and he’s well past due to lead the league. I am assuming that his 3-point shooting, currently at 28.8%, will return to his mean. This could add another half-point to his overall scoring average.

Gilgeous-Alexander is a meteor that has been streaking across the NBA skies, and I believe he’s legitimate. He enjoys his breakout season and aiming for a scoring title is a great way to keep him focused in an OKC year that will likely be long. (Improved, but still losing).

Curry just scored his sixth 50-point game (11th in his career), and no one can score as many points as the all-time 3-point king. Curry already holds two of these titles. However, if he wins one at 35 years and 26 days, Curry will break Michael Jordan’s hold on the Top 3 spots for the oldest scoring champ (MJ did it at 35-72, 34-72, and 33-72 in 1998 and ’96, respectively). Steph might be interested in this.

BRIAN MARTINS: My top three choices are Luka Doncic (33.5 points per game), Stephen Curry (32.3 points per game) and Shai Gilgeous Alexander (31.1 points per game). Doncic is my predicted scoring champ from this group.

Curry is shooting the lights this season. He shot 52.9% from field, 44.7% on 3-pointers (11.8 attempts), and 90.3% free throws. If he continues to be efficient, he could join Hall of Famer Larry Bird and Steve Nash in having multiple 50-40-90 seasons. Curry’s problem is that Curry has the second-lowest usage (29.7%), and Golden State will need Klay Thompson or Jordan Poole to be back in the playoff race.

Gilgeous-Alexander has a career-best 31.1 points per game (up 6.6 points from last season). She is also currently shooting 50-40-90, but with almost nine more 3-point attempts than Curry. Gilgeous-Alexander is the fifth most used member of the group (31.5%) and has averaged 21.3 field goal attempts, which is nearly nine more than Curry. This makes her 7.1 times more than any OKC teammate. All of these numbers are below Doncic’s.

His usage rate (37.3%), field goal attempts (22.8 league-high), free throw attempts (11.4), third, slightly ahead Giannis and Embiid) and lack of competition for shots (10.1 per game more than any other Maverick) make him the leading candidate to keep his lead and win his first NBA scoring title.

While Doncic may not be at 2018-19 James Harden’s level of usage (39.6%), shot attempts (24.5), and dominance of shot attempts over colleagues (10.7), Harden was still the offensive fulcrum for their respective teams.

Durant isn’t the Nets’ leader in shot attempts, but Kyrie Irving does. Embiid also has the aforementioned Harden or Tyrese Maxiey. Giannis has Jayson Tatum and fellow All-Star Jaylen brown in the backcourt. Donovan Mitchell has fellow All Star Darius Garland in his backcourt. This group has the lowest usage of any player on the field (29.5%).

MARK MEDINA – Mavs coach Jason Kidd warned Luka Doncic that Doncic’s usage rate was so high that “he won’t be human if it gets past Christmas.” However, Dallas seems to be better off letting Doncic prove that he can work as a machine than depending on other options.

Take into account the difference in Doncic’s scoring output (33.5 ppg league-leading) to that of the Mavericks’ other double-digit scorers Spencer Dinwiddie’s 17.1 points, Christian Wood’s 16.6 points and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 11.5 points. Doncic has helped his teammates to be ranked fourth in the NBA for assists (8.1) through Monday games. Doncic has increased his scoring because Jalen Brunson left for New York last summer. This reality will ensure Dallas is in the playoffs, and Doncic becomes the NBA’s scoring champion.

Stephen Curry, the Warriors’ guard, could easily win his third NBA scoring title if team dynamics didn’t apply. Curry will be unable to make consistent shots without Klay Thompson or Jordan Poole. Curry will be sat for Monday’s match against New Orleans by Steve Kerr, the Warriors coach. Doncic also rested against Houston. The Mavericks aren’t able to afford Doncic such a luxury on a long-term deal.

SHAUN POOWELL: Let me first clarify who won’t score the most points. Not Giannis Antetokounmpo, (Shaquille-like free throw shooter), not Donovan Mitchell (Darius Garland is beginning to cut into his attempts), Jayson Tatum(ditto Jaylen Brown), and Kevin Durant (Kyrie’s back in line — have you heard the latest? ), Shai Gilgeous Alexander (has a chance), or Joel Embiid. James Harden will need some shots once he is healthy.

This leaves Steph Curry, the 2-time scoring champion, and Luka Doncic, who are now out of reach. This is who will decide the race. It will come down to one question: Who carries the greater scoring burden for his team? Curry’s shooting percentage is at 44.7 percent for the Warriors. However, it seems that he will get less attempts once Klay Thompson regains his groove. Doncic is the Mavericks’ core offense, and he gets to the free throw line more often. Doncic may be thinking about the Kia MVP award (it’s his turn! A scoring title will help his chances, but don’t tell that about Embiid who was second in MVP votes and first in scoring.

JOHN SCHUHMANN – First, let me note that Joel Embiid, the eventual scoring champ, had only played in nine of the 18 games. This was 22nd for players with that many appearances. Maybe this season’s eventual leader will be Anthony Edwards, De’Aaron Fox, or Trae Young and not one of these eight men.

If I had to choose between the eight, Giannis Antetokounmpo would be my choice. His shooting (effective field goal percentage 53.6%) has been way lower than the previous four seasons (59.2%). Antetokounmpo will see Khris Middleton make his season debut, which will reduce Antetokounmpo’s usage. However, he will also improve Antetokounmpo’s efficiency. (Middleton has been Antetokounmpo’s most reliable teammate, in terms of total assists and minutes on the floor, for the past two seasons. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have also shot less well (from the field), than they have in the past few seasons. They should therefore remain at the top.

MICHAEL C.WRIGHT: Six of the eight players that we are discussing (Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell), rank in the top 10 NBA field goal attempts per match. Curry is 10th (20.6). When you look at their usage rates, only four (Doncic and Embiid as well as Durant) are in the top 10.

For me, the player who is most important on offense for team success should win the scoring title at the end of the season. Doncic is the player I see from this point of view. He is currently playing at a career high in minutes (36.9) and has the highest usage percentage (38.3) during his career. Doncic also takes a remarkable 11.4 free throws per match (another career high), ranking third behind Antetokounmpo, and Embiid. Dallas is becoming a bit dependent on its superstar 23-year-old, which is not lost on Jason Kidd, Mavericks coach.

Kidd expressed concern about Doncic’s high usage rates and the lack of a reliable third ball handler to support veteran Spencer Dinwiddie as the point guard. The scoring title is Doncic’s to keep, so long as he can physically withstand the demands of the NBA season. Dallas must win the title if it is to remain in contention.

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