MVP Race: Stephen Curry holds steady at No. 1, Nikola Jokic creeping up

2021-22 nba mvp race rankings rumors curry durant jokic butler giannis

MVP Race: Stephen Curry holds steady at No. 1, Nikola Jokic creeping up

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MVP Race: Stephen Curry holds steady at No. 1, Nikola Jokic creeping up

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We’ve arrived at the second installment of our weekly NBA MVP Race series, where we rank the Top 15 players in the 2021-22 season.

This, as always, was a team vote, aggregated out and set up for your viewing pleasure.

Let’s jump right in.

1
Stephen Curry (Golden State)

2021-22 stats: 28.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 6.6 apg, 1.7 spg, 40.6 3PT%

Our MVP from last week retains his top spot in the rankings this time around, and it’s impossible to argue against that, as – if anything – Stephen Curry’s play has gotten even more impressive since we last discussed him.

Curry currently leads the league in scoring at nearly 29 points per game and has the Golden State Warriors sitting pretty with the best record in the league (12-2) and with the NBA’s highest net rating (+13.1), to boot.

Curry’s highlight performance this week came on Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets, when the two-time league MVP dropped 37 points, nine three-pointers and five assists in a dominant 18-point road victory for Golden State.

Just two nights before that, Curry went off for 40 points and nine triples against the Chicago Bulls in another huge victory for the Warriors, this one by 26 points.

For the latest Stephen Curry rumors, click here.

2
Nikola Jokic (Denver)

2021-22 stats: 26.1 ppg, 13.8 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 59.3 FG%

The reigning league MVP in real life, Nikola Jokic has continued his monstrous ways this campaign, posting a 26/14/6 stat line while helping carry a Denver Nuggets team missing two starters in Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.

Even without two above-average starters in the lineup, the Nuggets rank seventh league-wide in net rating (+4.4) and sit tied for third in the West with a solid 9-5 record. Without Jokic, that would very obviously not be the case.

Jokic ranks first among all players in VORP, BPM and WS/48 PER, as well as third in our own Global Rating metric.

In all, Jokic has been spectacular, and it wouldn’t be surprising whatsoever to see him take home his second consecutive MVP award at year’s end if he keeps this up, which he more than likely will.

For the latest Nikola Jokic rumors, click here.

3
Kevin Durant (Brooklyn)

2021-22 stats: 28.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 4.9 apg, 2.0 3PTM, 56.7 FG%

By his illustrious standards, Kevin Durant approaches the weekend in a slight rut in form, averaging just 21.0 points on 42.9 percent shooting over his last two games, a pair of outings that the Nets split, first getting humiliated at home by Curry and Co. before bouncing back with a 10-point victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Even so, there’s no denying how spectacular Durant has been on the campaign, it’s just difficult not to wonder right now if he has enough around him to challenge for a championship in 2021-22, with James Harden still rounding into form and Kyrie Irving nowhere to be found.

But if any lone player is at the level right now to carry a team to a championship, it’s Durant, so the Nets should not be counted out this early despite their up-and-down start to the campaign.

For the latest Kevin Durant rumors, click here.

4
Jimmy Butler (Miami)

2021-22 stats: 24.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.9 spg, 53.0 FG%

Wednesday night’s Miami Heat contest against the New Orleans Pelicans was a great way to see what kind of form Jimmy Butler would be in after missing the club’s prior three contests due to an injured ankle.

Well, it looks like the 32-year-old intends to keep up his borderline-MVP-level-of-play, as Butler was awesome on Wednesday night, leading Miami to a 15-point win over New Orleans despite the Heat being without Bam AdebayoKyle Lowry and Markieff Morris, among others.

Butler exploded in the contest, playing nearly 37 minutes and putting up a 31/10/10 triple-double while shooting 10-of-18 from the floor.

Very few players league-wide can match Butler’s skill set, a swingman capable of locking up opposing wings on one end, dropping 30 on the other all while being able to play the role of lead playmaker for his team.

For the latest Jimmy Butler rumors, click here.

5
DeMar DeRozan (Chicago)

2021-22 stats: 26.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.2 apg, 0.9 spg, 50.0 FG%

From being panned by various critics as the worst signing of the offseason to ranking fifth in our MVP rankings weeks into the campaign, DeMar DeRozan has been fantastic thus far in 2021-22, and not just on the raw stat sheet.

DeRozan is smashing his preview career-high in swing rating this season, putting up an almost-unfathomable +23.5 in the statistic, which means the Chicago Bulls are outscoring opponents by that many points per 100 possessions with the four-time All-Star on the floor.

DeRozan’s previous career-high in swing rating? +3.9.

And besides those two seasons, DeRozan has never posted a positive mark in that metric, which goes to show that after this many years in the league, it’s still possible for a player to post a career-best campaign.

In fairness, however, few people in the world boast DeRozan’s overall skill level on a basketball court, so for most people, it would be impossible to post the best year of their career 13 seasons in.

For the latest DeMar DeRozan rumors, click here.

6
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)

2021-22 stats: 28.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.6 bpg, 51.5 FG%

Giannis Antetokounmpo posted his best game of the season on Wednesday night, and if it had come just a few days earlier, there’s a good chance the Greek Freak would have maintained his spot in the Top 5 of this ranking. Antetokounmpo exploded against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, putting up 47 points on just 23 shot attempts, becoming the first player this season to score that many points with that few shot attempts. Look for Antetokounmpo to fly back up these rankings this week as he maintains this level of form.

For the latest Giannis Antetokounmpo rumors, click here.

7
Paul George (LA Clippers)

2021-22 stats: 27.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 5.1 apg, 2.2 spg, 44.6 FG%

The Los Angeles Clippers approach the weekend in fantastic form, winning eight of their last nine contests, including a 14-point victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night, one in which they were led by Paul George, who had 34 points, nine rebounds and four assists to go with a steal and a block. George has continued his elite level of play from last season in 2021-21, dominating on both ends of the floor while proving that he’s one of the league’s top wings and not just a dated playoff meme.

For the latest Paul George rumors, click here.

8
Chris Paul (Phoenix)

2021-22 stats: 14.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 10.5 apg, 2.4 spg, 46.4 FG%

Although he’s posting the lowest points-per-game total of his career and the fourth-lowest true-shooting percentage, Chris Paul remains one of the top floor generals in the game, leading the league in nightly assists at 10.5 while ranking fourth in steals-per-contest at 2.4. What’s more, the Phoenix Suns sit sixth in net rating (+5.2) and are currently in the midst of a 10-game winning streak.

For the latest Chris Paul rumors, click here.

9
Ja Morant (Memphis)

2021-22 stats: 25.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 7.3 apg, 1.6 spg, 49.3 FG%

In part thanks to career-best outside-shooting marks, Ja Morant has absolutely exploded this campaign, putting up a 25.9/6.4/7.3 stat line, one that no other player in the league can match in 2021-22. Morant has developed into one of the most explosively productive point guards in the league and has the Memphis Grizzlies thinking big as far as their long-term future goes.

For the latest Ja Morant rumors, click here.

10
Zach LaVine (Chicago)

2021-22 stats: 26.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.9 3PTM, 40.0 3PT%

One of the most explosive athletes at the 2-guard spot, Zach LaVine is playing some of the best basketball of his career in 2021-22, scoring at a high, efficient level while also doing some secondary playmaking for the Bulls. Alongside DeRozan, Chicago boasts one of the fiercest one-two punches in basketball at the moment.

For the latest Zach LaVine rumors, click here.

11
Anthony Davis (LA Lakers)

2021-22 stats: 23.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.9 apg, 2.1 bpg, 51.5 FG%

It’s been a rough go for the Lakers without LeBron James, as the purple-and-gold franchise has dropped three of its last four games, including back-to-back losses to the Bulls and Bucks by a combined 25 points. Things haven’t gone that much better for Anthony Davis, as although his raw averages have bounced back this season, L.A. is nearly 10 full points per 100 possessions worse with him on the floor this season. That’ll bounce back once James returns, but it speaks to the larger point of Davis’ career: He’s probably not leading a team to a championship as its No. 1 option.

For the latest Anthony Davis rumors, click here.

12
Luka Doncic (Dallas)

2021-22 stats: 24.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 7.9 apg, 1.3 spg, 43.4 FG%

Poor shooting has caused Luka Doncic to get off to a slow start, and an injured ankle and knee won’t help matters for the Slovenian superstar, although the injuries don’t appear to be too serious, luckily for the Dallas Mavericks. What is comforting for Dallas is the fact Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are finally playing with some synergy, something that could help the Mavericks immensely come playoff time.

For the latest Luka Doncic rumors, click here.

13
James Harden (Brooklyn)

2021-22 stats: 20.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 8.8 apg, 1.2 spg, 43.2 FG%

James Harden finally appears to be turning a corner in 2021-22, as over his last four games, the bearded superstar is averaging 26.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 9.0 assists while shooting 50.0 percent from the floor, 40.0 percent from three and 88.4 percent from the foul stripe. Perhaps most importantly, Harden is getting to the line over 10 times nightly over that stretch, which could mean the former league MVP has finally figured out how to manipulate the officiating once again. (Or, more likely, he’s just very difficult to defend for anyone and he’s finally regained the explosiveness he was lacking after the hamstring injury he suffered in the playoffs.)

For the latest James Harden rumors, click here.

14
Rudy Gobert (Utah)

2021-22 stats: 14.9 ppg, 15.4 rpg, 1.1 spg, 1.9 bpg, 70.6 FG%

One of the most impactful big men in basketball, Rudy Gobert has the Utah Jazz rolling yet again, with the Salt Lake franchise tied for third in the West at 9-5 and No. 2 in the NBA in net rating (+8.9). Gobert leads the league in rebounding while wreaking havoc defensively and although both he and the rest of the Jazz are going to have to prove it in the playoffs this year before being considered legit contenders, there’s no doubt they’re one of the strongest teams in the NBA early on this campaign.

For the latest Rudy Gobert rumors, click here.

15
Donovan Mitchell (Utah)

2021-22 stats: 24.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.8 spg, 43.8 FG%

Although it may appear that Donovan Mitchell has maintained his level from previous seasons or maybe even slightly regressed, the advanced stats paint a different picture, as the Jazz 2-guard is currently posting the highest BPM and WS/48 marks of his career. And he’s doing that in spite of porous shooting marks, particularly from beyond the arc. Once his shot starts dropping at his previous career rates, Utah opponents may need to worry.

For the latest Donovan Mitchell rumors, click here.

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