NBA media poll: Stephen Curry ahead of Kevin Durant for MVP to start 2022

NBA media poll: Stephen Curry ahead of Kevin Durant for MVP to start 2022

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NBA media poll: Stephen Curry ahead of Kevin Durant for MVP to start 2022

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Stephen Curry enters 2022 as the leading contender for the MVP award with Kevin Durant in striking distance and Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic also lurking.

To determine the top contenders for the MVP award, HoopsHype anonymously polled 20 media members who voted on last year’s official NBA awards for their current top five MVP rankings.

As with the official vote, the top player received 10 points, the second received seven points, the third received five points, the fourth received three points, and the fifth player received one point for each ballot.

1. Stephen Curry (Golden State)

Share of the vote: 82.5 percent of maximum amount possible

Curry led all players with 11 first-place votes, more than double Durant in this month’s media MVP award poll.

The greatest three-point shooter in league history has made the most threes of any player this season (180) and at a career-high three-point attempt rate (.645). He’s led Golden State to a tie for West’s best record (29-8) by scoring the most points in the league (938).

Curry has also improved defensively and accounted for 2.1 defensive win shares, which is third in the league.

However, in five games from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5, Curry has shot 32-for-102 (.314) from the field, with his former teammate closing the gap on his MVP lead.

2. Kevin Durant (Brooklyn)

Share of the vote: 66.5 percent of maximum amount possible

Durant is leading the league in total field goals (338) and points per game (29.8) while on pace to win his fifth scoring title.

With Kyrie Irving out all season until he debuted against the Pacers on Jan. 5, and James Harden working himself into shape to begin the year, Durant has averaged the second-most minutes per game (37.1) while carrying the Nets on his back to the East’s second-best record (24-12).

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)

Share of the vote: 50 percent of maximum amount possible

Antetokounmpo puts pressure on the defense with his ability to drive to the rim with two long strides from just inside the three-point line and leads the league in free throws attempted (319).

Since returning from a five-game absence, the Greek Freak has averaged 32.6 points on 57.3 percent shooting with 11.2 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and a block and steal in his last five games.

4. Nikola Jokic (Denver)

Share of the vote: 44.5 percent of maximum amount possible

Jokic has almost single-handedly helped Denver remain a .500 team despite the losses of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. by leading the Nuggets in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per game.

The reigning MVP also leads the league in player efficiency rating (32.2) and defensive rebounding percentage (38.8). Furthermore, Jokic also is having his best season on the glass averaging 14.2 rebounds per game.

5. DeMar DeRozan (Chicago)

Share of the vote: 5.5 percent of maximum amount possible

DeRozan has disproved the myth that the mid-range game is dead, as he leads the league in two-point field goals (284). On his way to a fifth All-Star appearance, DeRozan has been one of the league’s most clutch players. He leads the NBA in total points scored in the fourth quarter (249), per StatMuse, and hit back-to-back game-winners against the Pacers and Wizards recently.

After shooting above 30 percent from three-point range only three times in his previous 12 seasons, DeRozan is shooting a career-high 36.2 percent from downtown.

6. Chris Paul (Phoenix)

Share of the vote: 4.0 percent of maximum amount possible

Paul leads the league in total assists (373) and steals (70), which hasn’t been done since he did it during the 2008-09 season as a New Orleans Hornet, per ESPN Stats and Info.

If Paul keeps up his current pace, it will mark the fifth time he leads the league in assists per game (10.1).

After starting the year 1-3, the Suns have shined bright and gone 28-5 while competing with Golden State for the top spot in the West, thanks predominantly to Paul.

7. LeBron James (LA Lakers)

Share of the vote: 3.0 percent of maximum amount possible

The Lakers haven’t lived up to championship-level expectations thus far, but James isn’t to blame. James ranks fifth in player efficiency rating (26.7) and has played statistically as well as any of his recent seasons, as noted below.

8. Rudy Gobert (Utah)

Share of the vote: 2.5 percent of maximum amount possible

Gobert has helped Utah remain undefeated in its division (9-0) and tied for the best road record (14-3).

Gobert leads the NBA in total win shares (7), offensive win shares (4.3), defensive win shares (2.7), offensive rating (136.4), field goal percentage (.706), effective field goal percentage (.706), and true shooting percentage (.726).

9. Ja Morant (Memphis)

Share of the vote: 0.5 percent of maximum amount possible

Morant, who told HoopsHype he is a “top five” point guard, is expected to earn his first All-Star appearance, with Memphis holding a firm grip on the fourth seed in the West.

“I don’t think it’s any question he’s an All-Star,” Desmond Bane, Morant’s backcourt mate, said after the Grizzlies beat the Nets Monday. “The real conversation is, ‘Is he the best point guard in the league?’”

Morant is averaging career-highs in nearly every statistical category and ranks seventh overall in player efficiency rating (25.5).

9. Trae Young (Atlanta)

Share of the vote: 0.5 percent of maximum amount possible

While the Hawks have been off to an underwhelming start, Young has played the most efficient basketball of his career. Young is shooting career-highs from the field (.460), three-point range (.381), and the foul throw line (.902) with 9.5 assists per game.

In his fourth season, Young ranks second in scoring (28.4), offensive win shares (4.1) and usage percentage (35.4), third in assists, and sixth in player efficiency rating (26.2).

On Jan. 3, Young scored a career-high 56 points and added 14 assists to become only the sixth player with 55 or more points and 10 or more assists in a game. He joined Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden (three times) to record such a stat line.

9. Devin Booker (Phoenix)

Share of the vote: .5 percent of maximum amount possible

Booker and Paul were the only pair of teammates to earn MVP award consideration in this month’s media poll.

Following a deep playoff run and winning the gold medal with Team USA, Booker is averaging career-highs in three-point percentage (.420) and rebounds (5.3).

You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto

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