What an NBA season it's been so far.

The Western Conference is stronger than ever with numerous elite teams battling for the No. 1 seed in the conference. Outside of teams fighting to grab the top spot, multiple players are making their case for the Most Valuable Player Award.

Players such as Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Damian Lillard, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and a few others are the early season frontrunners.

One name who is getting a lot of mentions lately is Marc Gasol.

Gasol leads one of the most powerful defensive units in the league today, the Memphis Grizzlies. Paired with power forward Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies are 21-6 this season, good enough for third place in the West and first place in the Southwest division.

Recently, Gasol guided the Grizzlies to back-to-back victories over the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. In their spectacular three overtime game against the Spurs, the Grizzlies won 117-116, with Gasol scoring a game-high 26 points. With just 2.5 seconds remaining in the game, the Grizzlies trailed 92-89. Gasol caught an inbound pass and made an incredible three-point shot at the end of regulation to force overtime. That is the only three-point shot Gasol has made this season.

Gasol has performed very well in the clutch this year, thus making his MVP case.

No Spain-born player in NBA history has ever won the NBA MVP award. Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) Steve Nash (South Africa) and Dirk Nowitzki (Germany) are the only three international players to win the award.

Gasol isn't the most exciting player to watch, and he doesn't have the most thrilling slam dunks like a LeBron James or Kevin Durant, but he's just as effective. This season Gasol is averaging a career-high 19.7 points per game, while averaging eight rebound per game in the process. Despite playing a position that historically shoots terrible from the free throw line, Gasol is making more than 82 percent of his free throws this season.

Gasol currently leads the Grizzlies in points scored, blocks, free throws hit and shots made. Gasol is without a doubt one of the most valuable players to his team in the league.

This year's MVP race is wide open, and Gasol is right in the middle of it. To further boost his portfolio, Gasol plays in by far the toughest and most difficult division in the NBA today. The Southwest division features elite teams such as the Houston Rockets, the defending champion San Antonio Spurs and the new-look Dallas Mavericks. If Gasol can lead the Grizzlies to a division title with that type of competition, he could get a lot of votes.

The last center to win the MVP award was Shaquille O'Neal for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999.

There's still plenty of time remaining in the season for a lot of players to get more notoriety from voters. But less than 30 games into this year, Gasol has the Grizzlies rolling and has made a strong case for early season MVP.

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