Jordan Clarkson continues his impressive early season play with another strong outing against the New Orleans Pelicans. Clarkson dropped 24 points on 10 of 18 shooting with five assists in just 26 minutes, validating his status as one of the leaders for the coveted Sixth Man of the Year award.

Clarkson, who is in the second year of a four-year, $50 million deal with the Lakers, has surprisingly emerged as the team’s leading scorer (19.7 points per game) through the first three games. The impressive part about the Lakers guard’s hot run is his improved shooting efficiency.

Clarkson is shooting 51 percent from the floor and an outstanding 50 percent from beyond the arc.

It’s going to be interesting if Clarkson can maintain this level of play over the next six months. One thing is for sure, the Fil-American star is benefiting from his new role as the Lakers’ main gunner off the bench. Perhaps, the departure of pure scorer Lou Williams has helped him realize his niche in the NBA, as he now fully embraced his transition from a point guard to an offensive-oriented combo guard.

Sixth Man of the Year competition

The competition for this year’s Sixth Man of the Year award will be fiercer than ever as more up-and-coming stars like Clarkson look to compete with perennial contenders such as Williams (L.A Clippers), Jamal Crawford (Minnesota Timberwolves) and last year’s winner Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets).

Williams is averaging his usual numbers with the Clips (15 ppg on 48 percent field goal shooting with 6.0 apg in two games), while Crawford is still making a big impact for his new team at the age of 37. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner recently had a statement game in which he scored all of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and then hit the game-winner to help the T-Wolves beat the Utah Jazz, 100-97.

Giannis bid for MVP

All-Star small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo only needed three games to declare his intention of winning the regular-season MVP for the first time in his career. The Milwaukee Bucks star is currently the league’s leading scorer, averaging 38.3 points on an incredible 67 percent field goal shooting. The Greek Freak is also making a huge impact on other areas with 9.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.0 steals in 38 minutes per game.

At 22-years-old, Giannis has a chance to become one of the youngest MVP winners in league’s history. Then again, the season is too young to pick Antetokounmpo as the runaway favorite for the award. LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, LaMarcus Aldridge of the San Antonio Spurs, and John Wall of the Washington Wizards are also chalking up MVP-type of numbers through week No.1 of the 2017-18 NBA season. There will be lots of ups and downs across the MVP rankings over the next few months, but Giannis is undoubtedly the early front-runner for the award.