Two months into the season, the NBA MVP ladder 2021-22 is getting clearer. Some players are standing out from the rest of the pack, not only because of their numbers but also for actually leading their teams to success. Empty stats won’t get the job done when it comes to winning MVP.
The NBA MVP race in 2021-22 promises to be one for the ages and go down to the stretch. A week out with an injury or a minor shooting slump could be enough for one of the leaders to lose the award. And they’re well aware of that.
NBA MVP ladder 2021-22
For the first time in years, it seems like not only the MVP race but also the NBA championship is unpredictable. Who’ll end up on top? It’s anybody’s guess. We have at least five teams that have a legit chance to win the Larry O’Brien trophy.
But there are levels to everything. Even among the best players on Earth, some have been more efficient, more impactful, and way more valuable for their teams. That’s why today, we’re going to make a case for the top 5 leading candidates in the NBA MVP race in 2021-22:
5. Donovan Mitchell
It’s finally time we start praising Donovan Mitchell as the superstar he is. He’s averaging 24.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 steals, and 3.2 three-pointers per game on 46% from the floor. His Rookie of the Year rival Ben Simmons hasn’t even suited up this season.
All jokes aside, Mitchell has been one of the best players in the league and he continues to make big strides on the defensive end of the floor as well. He’s making the most of his hops and athleticism to contest shots and has become a big threat in passing lanes.
Moreover, the Utah Jazz are 20-8 and have the third-best record in the Western Conference. No one seems to be talking about the Jazz and their hot start of the season, which is normal given they’re not the most popular market. Even so, Spida deserves his flowers.
Some people still wonder whether the Jazz will be able to keep this up. They have a long history of underperforming in the postseason. But they deserve the benefit of the doubt, especially if Mitchell continues to get better and dominate.
4. Nikola Jokic
The Denver Nuggets just can’t seem to catch a break this season. Being without Jamal Murray to start the season was already tough, and losing Michael Porter Jr. as well was a deadly blow. Even so, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic continues to carry the load night in and night out.
Throughout history, not many previous NBA award winners have been able to earn that distinction in back-to-back years. And the Nuggets’ mediocre 15-14 record isn’t going to do him any favors in this year’s voting. But all things considered, being a .500 team with that depleted roster speaks volumes.
Jokic hasn’t taken his foot off the gas after his MVP season. Right now, he’s averaging 26.6 points, 13.6 rebounds (both career-highs), and 7.5 assists. He’s also averaging 1.3 steals and 1.7 triples per contest, so he deserves a spot in the NBA MVP ladder 2021-22.
The Joker isn’t getting much love despite being the reigning MVP and one of the league’s leaders in most advanced stats. He’s a special kind of talent, a unique player, and the greatest passing big man in the history of the Association. But he needs the Nuggets to give him some help.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo is yet another of many stars hurt by the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Also, he’s missed a couple of games with injury, so some are hesitant about including him in the NBA MVP race in 2021-22. Even so, his impact is even more notorious when he’s not on the court.
Giannis is the jack of all trades for Mike Budenholzer. He can do everything on both ends of the floor and is once again leading the Milwaukee Bucks in pretty much every major stat. He’s the main reason why they’re second in the Eastern Conference.
Thus far, the Greek Freak is averaging 27.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.6 blocks, and 1.1 three-pointers per game. He’s doing all that while playing just 32 minutes a night, all while shooting nearly 53% from the floor. That’s just ridiculous.
Giannis’ haters call him out for not guarding the best player on the rival team. But his sole presence inside the paint makes scorers second guess and avoid driving through the lane. He can guard one through five and is a much better shooter this season. If he starts knocking down the three more often, then it’s game over for the rest of the league.
2. Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry lost his first spot in the NBA MVP ladder 2021-22 but it has nothing to do with a slump. If anything, Steph has been as great as per usual over the past couple of weeks, even clinching the first spot in the all-time three-point shooters’ list. But more importantly, the Warriors continue to win and it has plenty to do with him.
Curry has been as good – if not better – as he was during his unanimous MVP season. He’s averaging 26.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.6 steals, and an absurd 5.4 three-pointers per game (which is a career-high). Also, he’s knocking down nearly 40% of his shots from beyond the arc.
The all-time three-point King 👑
— Franchise Sports 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@FranchiseSprts) December 15, 2021
On top of that, Curry’s scoring outbursts have led the Golden State Warriors to the best record in the league. Sitting at 24-5, Steve Kerr‘s team has yet to unleash Klay Thompson and James Wiseman this season. So, on top of having one of the top NBA MVP candidates in 2022, they could have the most overpowered squad in no time.
We already knew that Steph was the greatest shooter of all time before he broke the record. But this season he’s looked like a man on a mission. He’s determined to silence his critics once and for all and that’s a scary thought for the rest of the league. The dynasty is back, so stop sleeping on the Warriors.
1. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant has earned his spot at the top of the NBA MVP ladder 2021-22. He’s carrying the load for a Brooklyn Nets team missing Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris. James Harden has struggled for most of the season and he’s also out right now due to the health and safety protocols.
Even so, Durant has managed to lead the resurging Nets to an impressive 21-8 record, which is good for the first spot in the Eastern Conference. He’s one of the few previous NBA award winners who have actually gotten better.
Right now, the former Thunder and Warriors superstar is leading the league in points per game at 29.7. He’s grabbing 7.9 boards and handing out 5.9 dimes per game. To make it even more impressive, he’s doing all that while shooting 52% from the floor and 38% from beyond the arc.
Durant’s unmatched combination of size, handles, shooting, and athleticism has made him the ultimate cheat code. He can shoot over every defender on Earth and has been a willing and smart passer all season long. He’s the best player in the world right now. Don’t let the Nets roster fool you, they’re not as stacked as it seems, and it’s been all KD.
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