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NBA MVP Ladder: Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant battling for No. 1 spot

With the primary month of the 2021-22 NBA season passing us by, it is time to assess which gamers have said the strongest case for this 12 months’s MVP award.

Whereas it is nonetheless early sufficient within the season the place one good or unhealthy week can drastically alter a participant’s standing on the MVP poll, these superstars have produced jaw-dropping numbers to raise their groups within the standings.

Earlier than we get to the top-five, let’s check out just a few gamers who simply missed the lower.

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Honorable mentions

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Though the Bucks have been sluggish out of the gate, Antetokounmpo has nonetheless been his MVP-caliber self.

Averaging 26.5 factors, 11.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.1 steals per recreation, Antetokounmpo has positioned himself in a class of his personal. The Greek Freak is the one participant within the league averaging at the very least 25 factors, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, one block and one steal, which is as spectacular of a stat line as you may presumably produce.

Accidents and well being and security protocols have taken a toll on Milwaukee to start out the 12 months, with Antetokounmpo even lacking his first recreation of the season because of an ankle harm this previous week. However with out his manufacturing, issues may very well be a lot worse for the defending champions.

Jimmy Butler, Miami Warmth

Butler has been an enormous motive why the Warmth appear to be among the finest groups within the NBA. He is averaging 23.6 factors per recreation – the second-best mark of his profession – whereas taking pictures a career-high 52.7 % from the sector. He is additionally matching a career-best with 2.1 steals per recreation, getting it finished on each ends of the ground for Miami.

It is no coincidence that after he went down with an ankle harm, the Warmth spiralled a bit with a 1-3 week, two losses coming in Butler’s absence. As soon as he returns to the ground, Butler could possibly work himself into the top-five on the following MVP Ladder.

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DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls

It is onerous to determine between DeRozan and Zach LaVine for Chicago’s early-season MVP, however I am leaning DeRozan right here.

The 32-year-old has revitalized himself with the Bulls, averaging 26.9 factors, 5.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per recreation. He hasn’t averaged over 25 factors per recreation since 2016-17 with the Raptors.

In response to NBA Stats, when DeRozan is on the courtroom, the Bulls are outscoring their opponents by 11.9 factors per 100 possessions, the very best mark on the crew. When DeRozan is off the courtroom, the Bulls are getting outscored by 12.2 factors per 100 possessions, that means the four-time All-Star is making a whopping 24.1 factors per 100 possessions distinction for his crew.

These numbers paint the image of how very important DeRozan has been to Chicago’s early-season success.

2021-22 NBA MVP Rankings

Stephen Curry defends Kevin Durant

5. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Quietly, Doncic has the Mavericks buzzing alongside early on within the season, proudly owning among the finest information within the Western Convention.

Averaging 24.9 factors, 8.3 rebounds and seven.9 assists per recreation, the 22-year-old’s averages will not be as excessive as years previous, however Dallas is successful video games, which is equally as essential in MVP conversations.

Together with large numbers, it is essential you’ve some signature moments alongside the way in which. Doncic has that field checked, too.

So long as the Mavericks can stay towards the highest of the West, Doncic’s identify will probably be within the operating for MVP.

4. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Right here comes the reigning MVP.

Jokic was nonetheless placing up monster stats when the Nuggets received out to a mediocre 4-4 begin, nevertheless it wasn’t getting a lot consideration. After Denver rattled off 5 straight wins behind 4 large video games from Jokic, the All-Star middle is beginning to re-enter MVP conversations once more.

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He went for 28 factors and 14 rebounds in an in depth win over the Rockets. He adopted that efficiency with 25 factors, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over the Warmth, recording a triple-double earlier than being ejected for a success on Marcus Morris that made headlines. After serving a one-game suspension, Jokic got here again with a vengeance, going for an additional triple-double of twenty-two factors, 19 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over the Hawks.

How’d he observe that up? By going for 28 factors, 9 rebounds and 9 assists in 27 minutes in a blowout win over the Path Blazers.

Perhaps his scuffle in opposition to Miami has woken up the beast in Jokic, who’s again on MVP trajectory for the second season in a row.

3. Paul George, LA Clippers

You merely can’t have an MVP dialog up to now within the season with out mentioning George.

The seven-time All-Star has been unstoppable for a shorthanded Clippers crew, posting 26.5 factors, 8.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and a pair of.2 steals per recreation. His scoring is the second-highest of his profession, whereas his rebounds, assists and steals averages are the best of his profession.

Behind his manufacturing, LA rattled off seven-straight wins earlier than Sunday’s loss to the Bulls, surging up the Western Convention standings because of this.

The Clippers wanted George to step up in an enormous manner with Kawhi Leonard nonetheless sidelined with an ACL harm and he is finished every part they’ve requested for and extra, wanting like an All-NBA, MVP-caliber participant early on.

2. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

There have been loads of instances this season the place you must ask your self, “is Durant even human?”

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He is main the league with 29.6 factors per recreation, taking pictures an unfathomable 58.9 % from the sector, the best mark of his profession. As NBA.com’s Scott Rafferty detailed, Durant has been automated from midrange, pulling down 61.2 % of his makes an attempt. Additionally taking pictures 42.4 % from 3-point vary, Durant is the definition of unguardable.

I imply, simply have a look at his shot chart from this season.

Kevin Durant

With the inexperienced areas that means above league common, it goes to indicate simply how insane Durant has been this season.

He could be the runner-up proper now, however Durant is on tempo to have a shot at his second common season MVP award.

1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

With the Warriors proudly owning a near-perfect 11-2 report, how might anybody take Curry’s spot atop of the MVP Ladder?

Averaging 28.1 factors, Curry may be very a lot within the operating for an additional scoring title this season. He already has three video games with 40-plus factors, two of which got here up to now week. After dropping a 50-point double-double on the Hawks, two video games later, Curry hung 40 on the Bulls.

He is been in a kind of rhythms the place he would not even have to attend to see the ball undergo the ring earlier than he is aware of it is good.

Curry’s assists (6.7), rebounds (6.2) and steals (1.7) averages are all up from final season. It is also value noting he simply turned the NBA’s all-time chief in 3-pointers made (common season and playoffs mixed).

Golden State is wanting like a championship contender behind its celebrity guard as soon as once more, and Klay Thompson hasn’t even taken the ground but.

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