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NBA MVP Race 2021-22: It’s Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and everyone else

Sportsnaut
Sportsnaut
 3 days ago

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With the 2021-22 season in full gear, it’s time to look at our NBA MVP rankings. When all was said and done last season, Nikola Jokic earned the award after newly-minted champion Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award the previous two seasons. They are among our 10 favorites to hoist the award in 2021-22.

Related: Everything you need to know about the 2021-22 NBA season

NBA MVP race: The top five

1. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets (last week: 2)

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Slim Reaper has just been that this season with Kyrie Irving still away from the team and James Harden finding his way. Durant is averaging an NBA-best 28.6 points to go with 7.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting 54% from the field. His Nets sit at 15-6 and in first place in the Eastern Conference.

2. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (last week: 1)

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Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Curry moves down a spot in our most-recent NBA MVP rankings due to a career-worst shooting performance in a recent loss to the Phoenix Suns. The two-time league MVP shot just 4-of-21 from the field en route to the Warriors losing their third game of the season. Even then, one game doesn’t change just how dominant of a force Curry has been. He’s averaging 27.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.6 assists while shooting 41% from distance. Curry is also on pace to earn his first ever All-NBA Defensive Team honor.

Related: NBA Playoff and championship predictions

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (last week: 6)

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

After a 6-8 start to the season, Milwaukee has won seven consecutive and seems to be righting the ship. That’s primarily been due to this two-time NBA MVP. The Greek Freak continues to play absolutely splendid basketball . He’s averaging 27.9 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting 61% during that seven-game span.

4. Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat (last week: 4)

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Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Buckets is finally getting the attention her deserves on a national stage. He has the Heat as legit NBA title contenders and is putting up a career-best season . Through 14 games, Butler is averaging 23.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 52% shooting. He also ranks No. 1 among NBA players in win shares and offensive win shares. Talk about expanding your game.

5. Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns (last week: 9)

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Opposing Western Conference teams have to be asking if this dude will ever go away. With his Suns in the midst of a 17-game winning streak (that’s a thing), CP3 has been the primary reason why. First off, the Suns are plus-122 when he’s on the court during that span. Secondly, he is a top-end NBA Defensive Player of the Year candidate — ranking in the top 10 in all four major advanced stats. If that weren’t enough, Paul is averaging an NBA-high 10.1 assists to go with 2.1 steals per game. Yeah.

Related: Updated 2021-22 NBA power rankings

NBA MVP candidates: The best of the rest

6. Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers (last week: 3)

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Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Much like Curry last season, it will be hard for George to win the NBA MVP award unless his Clippers finish as a top seed out west. At 11-10, that’s unlikely to end up happening. Regardless, this dude has been elite in 2021-22 . He’s putting up 25.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists while coming away with 1.8 steals per outing. George also ranks second in defensive win shares and fifth in defensive rating. Whew.

7. DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls (last week: 5)

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Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

At 32 years old and in his first season with Chicago, DeRozan is in the midst of a career-best performance. The All-Star guard is averaging 25.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists while shooting 49% from the field. He also ranks in the top 10 of the NBA in offensive win shares and plus-minus. Stellar stuff for a dude back on a contending team.

8. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz (last week: 7)

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Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s get over this whole facade that just because a dude isn’t a 20-point scorer, he can’t be considered an NBA MVP candidate. Continuing to fly under the radar, Gobert is proving the naysayers wrong through 17 games. He’s averaging 15.1 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while shooting 73% from the field.

Related: Top NBA Rookie of The Year candidates

9. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (last week: 8)

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With Denver at a mere 10-10 on the season, it sure looks like Jokic won’t repeat as NBA MVP. The biggest issues here are the injuries plaguing Denver. Jamal Murray still has not returned from the ACL injury he suffered last season. Meanwhile, Michael Porter Jr. could be lost for the remainder of the campaign to a back injury. If Denver stays mediocre, there’s no chance Jokic finishes atop the rankings.

10. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (last week: 10)

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Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks’ status as a mid-tier playoff team complicated Doncic’s candidacy for the NBA MVP last season. That might be the case again in 2021-22. Dallas sits at a mediocre 10-9 and has lost five of six. It’s not for a lack of performance on Doncic’s part. He’s still averaging 25.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 8.3 assists per. Though, his shooting numbers are down across the board (44% from the field, 34% from distance).

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