The NBA MVP race in 2021-22 is officially on. It’s just one month into the season but it’s already a tight battle between superstars across the league. There are some new faces who unexpectedly put the league on notice.
NBA MVP race so far 2021-22
This year’s NBA MVP ladder is quite interesting. The top three MVP candidates so far are previous awardees. Meanwhile, some candidates climbed the ladder unexpectedly. The question is: Who will reign to the top to win this highly sought hardware?
Here’s the NBA MVP race so far in the 2021-22 season…
10. Chris Paul
Paul is averaging 14.4 points, 10.7 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. The numbers may not be enticing enough to win him the NBA MVP award. However, he passes the eye test in terms of leadership, playmaking, and outright winning. Even at the sunset phase of his career, he still manages to take over in the clutch, too.
If the Suns continue to dominate the West, Paul will continue to appear inside the NBA MVP ladder.
9. Ja Morant
After shifting gears in the playoffs last season, Ja Morant continues his explosive play this year. He’s one of the most athletic point guards of today—reminding us of a young Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook.
Morant took it up a notch with 26 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game while leading the Grizzlies to seventh in the West. We’re witnessing a superstar in the making.
Memphis is making some noise this season as an underdog and hungry team. It may be a long shot but Morant is one of the NBA MVP dark horses.
8. Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic hasn’t hit his stride yet early in the season as he’s shooting at an abysmal rate from three (30%) and the free throw line (68%).
While the percentages look bad, Doncic still is a fantastic playmaker who can find the open man outside and throw lobs to his big man. He’s averaging 25 points and 7.9 assists per game. His offensive game is a huge factor in why the Mavericks are fourth in the West.
It’s still early in the season and Doncic should find his stroke soon. As long as Dallas remains competitive, there’s no reason to write off Doncic yet in the NBA MVP ladder.
7. Paul George
George is averaging 26.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game this season while leading the Clippers to sixth in the West standings. He’ll continue to lead Los Angeles while they wait for Leonard to return.
If George continues his elite level of play on both ends of the floor, we might see him be an MVP finalist again this season—similar to his campaign in Oklahoma City. He should continue to prove the doubters wrong.
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo
This list won’t be complete without Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s still the Greek Freak that we witnessed last season, perhaps even better now with improved shooting.
This season, Giannis is still putting up monstrous numbers with 27.5 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. Milwaukee’s 8-8 record doesn’t look good right now but that’s just because they missed Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez for a huge chunk of time early this season.
His campaign may not be enticing as in the previous seasons but he’ll continue to show up on the NBA MVP ladder. It’s now up for the Bucks to rally once they get their starters back on the floor.
5. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler is one of the best two-way players in the league. His offensive and defensive impact is the main reason why the Heat is second in the East.
Offensively, Butler is posting a career-high in points with 24.8 per game while shooting 53% on the field. Aside from getting buckets, he can make plays for his team (5.5 assists per game) and disrupt passing lanes (2.1 steals per game).
Butler’s game and leadership can lead Miami to a deep playoff run and compete for the championship once again. The arrival of Kyle Lowry makes their chances even better now that they have a legit playmaker in the backcourt.
4. DeMar DeRozan
After a hot start, the Bulls are slowly but surely establishing themselves as one of the best teams in the league this season. DeMar DeRozan plays a huge factor in their current success. This is why he’s one of the NBA MVP dark horses.
DeRozan is currently averaging 26.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on 49% shooting. His near 27 points per game is reminiscent of his Toronto days. On the floor, he continues to be automatic in the midrange and provides clutch buckets when needed.
Chicago really looks good this season. If they continue to live up to the expectations, DeRozan should remain near the top of the NBA MVP ladder in 2021-22.
3. Nikola Jokic
The reigning MVP continues his monstrous performance this season. Jokic is averaging video game-like numbers again with 26.4 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game on 59% shooting.
Even without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets find themselves fifth in the West—all thanks to Jokic. It’s now just a matter of durability. Wear and tear might be an issue later in the season. After all, Jokic is one of the players in the league and has a whopping usage rate.
Now without the two next best players alongside him, he has to continue to carry Denver on his back. Along the way, he continues to move up the NBA MVP ladder.
2. Kevin Durant
Now finally healthy to start the season, Kevin Durant is finally back to his true form. No one thought he could go back to the same player he was, especially after he tore his Achilles two years ago.
Durant is currently averaging 28.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game on 57% shooting while leading the Kyrie-less Nets as the best team in the East. We all know that he can continue producing these numbers as the season goes, if not better.
It all now boils down to if Brooklyn gets Irving back on the floor and if James Harden gets accustomed to the new rules. Durant still needs those two to show up for their championship aspirations.
1. Stephen Curry
It’s safe to say that the Warriors are officially back and it’s all because of Curry’s monstrous performances night after night. His game just keeps on getting better even at age 33.
Curry is currently averaging 29.5 points (league-best), 6.5 assists, and 5.7 threes per game while leading Golden State as the best team in the West.
Since tip-off, the Warriors have scored 100 points or more on 16 consecutive games—reminiscent of their 2015-2016 season.
It’s also notable that Curry is taking more threes this season with 13.5 attempts per game. This is a huge reason why he’s making 5.7 threes per game which is his career-best. It’s now a normal trend for him to launch deep threes at the halfcourt and splash it with ease.