Wooden Watch: Does Duke own the race?

Multiple teams have been anchored by two Wooden Award candidates. Just last year, Jalen Brunson won the award while teammate Mikal Bridges was a serious candidate entering the final chapter of the season.

But Duke's current competition between Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett might be unique. For voters, there's a good chance those two have already pulled ahead of the pack.

Few teams have boasted a pair of players who've matched their collective dominance.

John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins had a fabulous season with Kentucky in 2009-10, but neither averaged more than 20 points per game. Nick Collison (18.5 PPG) and Kirk Hinrich (17.3 PPG) combined to average more than 35 points per game when they were both All-Americans and Wooden Award contenders during the 2002-03 season.

If Williamson and Barrett continue to score at this pace, however, their combined 43.7 PPG would be the No. 2 mark for a duo at Duke during the past 20 years, per ESPN Stats & Information.

Duke might own this season's Wooden Award race.

Who would win the award today

Zion Williamson: Williamson is just different. In his career-high, 30-point effort in a win at Wake Forest on Tuesday, he did it all. He dunked. He scored in traffic. He hit big shots. He made key defensive plays.

He's an uncanny force. The last 300-poundish (Williamson is reportedly 282) who moved like he does was Shaquille O'Neal.

This is now his award to lose. Yes, it's early, and Barrett or another talent could emerge and steal the prize, but we've already watched Williamson impose his will on Gonzaga, Auburn, Texas Tech and Indiana. He has a rare combination of power and grace.

He's made 75 percent of his shots this season, proof he's unstoppable at this level.

And if his 3-for-4 effort from the 3-point line against Wake Forest is a sign he intends to test his range going forward, he could become a more potent threat.

The top three contenders

RJ Barrett: The freshman standout has played in 14 games. He's failed to score 20 points or more in only three of those matchups. His stat line -- 22.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 4.1 APG -- would have put him at the top of most national player of the year lists in recent years. But, of course, he's battling Williamson this season.

But they do make each other better.

When I talked to Rowan Barrett, RJ's father and a former pro basketball player, he surprised me when he described his son's greatest strength.

"He's kind of got a history of winning," Rowan Barrett told me. "What's his greatest attribute? It's winning."

Hard to argue against that after the season Barrett has had thus far.

Grant Williams: He had an off night (four points) in Tuesday's lopsided win over Missouri. But he's still a serious contender for the Wooden Award. The metrics all love him. The Vols average 1.20 points per possession and hold opponents to 0.87 points per possession, per hooplens.com, when he's on the floor. Per hoop-math.com, he's made a stellar 55 percent of his jump shots.

Williams is a great two-way player who could lead Tennessee to a national title.

Cassius Winston: Last week, Winston didn't even make our "rest of the pack" list. That was an oversight. He has emerged as a legitimate Wooden Award contender in recent weeks. Right now, he's averaging 18.0 PPG, 7.4 APG and 1.0 SPG while connecting on 46 percent of his 3-pointers (94 attempts).

And Michigan State needs Winston to continue to put up significant numbers for a Spartans team that might not be with Joshua Langford for a lengthy stretch as he recovers from an ankle injury.

The rest of the pack

  • Rui Hachimura: The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 21.4 PPG for a Gonzaga team that's finally healthy and ready to win another West Coast Conference title.

  • Ja Morant: Last season, Trae Young became the first player to lead Division I basketball in scoring and assists. But Morant (23.3 PPG, top 15 in the country) leads the nation in assists and could capture the national scoring crown with a strong second half.

  • Kyle Guy: He's connected on 48 percent of his 3-point attempts on a Virginia squad that not only may be the best team in America right now, but has two other national Player of the Year candidates in Ty Jerome and De'Andre Hunter.

  • Ignas Brazdeikis: The Lithuanian-Canadian star teams with two players (Jordan Poole, Charles Matthews) who could both crack this list at some point this season.

  • Ethan Happ: Wisconsin has fallen from the top 25 after losses to Minnesota and Western Kentucky. But Happ's 19.3 PPG, 10.3 RPG and 1.3 BPG are still impressive.

  • Dedric Lawson: He has 11 double-doubles this season and he'll need more with Udoka Azubuike sidelined for the rest of the year with a wrist injury.

  • Admiral Schofield: He's averaging 18 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 2.9 APG, and he's made 45 percent of his 3-point attempts this season.

  • Jarrett Culver: He had 23 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in a win over Oklahoma on Tuesday night. Don't be surprised if he moves up and emerges as the top threat to Williamson and Barrett.

  • Markus Howard: Howard had 53 points in an overtime win against Creighton on Wednesday. And before that? He dropped 45 points twice -- both against teams that were ranked at the time (Kansas State, Buffalo).

  • Shamorie Ponds: Ponds (20.6 PPG, 6.0 APG, 4.4 RPG, 2.7 SPG) is the reason Chris Mullin's St. John's team is a threat in the Big East.