Warriors

Where Steph, KD, Jokic sit in latest NBA MVP rankings

Warriors

Steph Curry is closing in on Ray Allen's record for the most 3-pointers in an NBA career, further cementing his legacy as the greatest shooter of all time. 

Especially with the Warriors owning one of the NBA's best records after 26 games, Curry is far and away the frontrunner for NBA MVP at this stage of the season.

Who else is competing with Curry for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy this season? Let's dive into the second edition of our rankings.

Honorable Mentions

 

Rudy Gobert

The Utah Jazz big man has been the NBA's best rim protector for several years, and once again has his team among the best squads in the Western Conference.

Gobert is averaging 15.1 points and leads the NBA by more than a full rebound with 14.7 boards per game. The 7-footer also is third in the NBA with 56 blocks this season. Gobert has the NBA's second-best defensive rating behind Warriors star Draymond Green. No NBA player has more win shares this season per Basketball-Reference than Gobert.

The league's shift away from the paint and emphasis on 3-point shooting will make it difficult for Gobert to ever win an MVP trophy outright, but it is hard to argue any player across the league makes a larger impact on the defensive end of the court.

DeMar DeRozan

The face of a new-look Chicago Bulls team, DeRozan has not lost his signature midrange jumper and has improved his ability to consistently hit from behind the arc as well.

DeRozan is averaging 26.4 points (fifth-best in NBA) and 5.6 rebounds per game for the Central Division-leading Bulls. DeRozan also ranks inside the top 15 in the NBA in free throw percentage and Player Efficiency Rating.

 

The veteran currently is out in COVID-19 health and safety protocol, and will have an uphill battle to be among the finalists unless the Bulls go on a tear and establish themselves as the best team in the East. If DeRozan returns and is the catalyst for such a run, he will climb in these rankings.

Jimmy Butler

Butler has battled a tailbone injury and missed some time of late, but is the clear leader of another serious contender in the East in the Miami Heat.

Butler is averaging 22.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, and has the NBA's third-best PER behind Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. He also ranks fourth in the league in box plus-minus.

His injury likely will keep him from moving up the ladder, as Butler has missed nine games already and has yet to return to the lineup. However, Butler is incredibly valuable to the Heat, and will be the deciding factor on how far Miami can go in the playoffs.

Top 5

5. Nikola Jokic

An omission from our first edition, Jokic's situation was up in the air after his viral scuffle with Markieff Morris and the Miami Heat. The reigning MVP only was suspended one game, and continues putting up staggering numbers in his seventh NBA season.

Jokic is averaging 26.1 points, 13.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists, and is dominating the NBA's advanced stat leaderboards. Jokic ranks first in PER, win shares per 48 minutes, box plus-minus and value over a replacement player (VORP).

The big man has been particularly dominant in his past six games, and has an absurd on-off split for the Nuggets.

If Denver can stack some wins, Jokic's overwhelming individual numbers will have him back among the top contenders.

4. Chris Paul

The longtime Warriors nemesis is pacing Golden State's top contender for a Western Conference title down in Phoenix.

Paul is averaging a double-double with 14.4 points and 10.2 assists (most in NBA) for the conference-leading Suns. Paul also ranks fourth in the league with 2.0 steals per game, and is among the NBA's top 20 in both offensive and defensive rating.

The 36-year-old has kept the Suns rolling even with Devin Booker out of the lineup, and should be near the top of the MVP voting at season's end if he stays healthy and Phoenix holds its spot at the top of the West.

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Fresh off his first championship with the Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis is making a strong push for his third NBA MVP honors.

Antetokounmpo has overtaken Steph and ranks second in the NBA with 27.3 points per game average, and also is pulling down 11.7 rebounds and dishing out 5.9 assists per game. Giannis also is second behind Jokic in PER, box plus-minus and VORP.

If there ends up being an extended absence for either of the two guys above him on this list going forward, Antetokounmpo once again should end up among the finalists.

 

2. Kevin Durant

Even without Kyrie Irving, KD has the Brooklyn Nets at the top of the East standings with Christmas approaching.

KD leads the NBA with 29.4 points per game, and also is averaging 7.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists. Sunday night saw Durant have his breakout performance of the 2021-22 season, as he poured in 51 points on over 50 percent shooting.

While teammate James Harden adjusts to the NBA's rule changes, Durant has thrived and shows no ill effects of the brutal Achilles injury he suffered in his final appearance in a Warriors uniform back in 2019. KD's PER and box plus-minus rank fifth in the NBA.

The Nets hold a narrow lead over the Bucks and Bulls for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and KD has been an integral part of that. He'll have a chance to win his second MVP if our No. 1 starts to slip.

1. Steph Curry

Like we said above, no breaking news here.

RELATED: The beauty in Warriors being NBA's biggest villains again

Steph's averages of 27.1 points, 6.3 assists and 5.6 rebounds are right in line with his generally elite production, and the Warriors are off to an impressive 21-5 start, even without Klay Thompson. Steph's defense has improved immensely this season, as he ranks fourth in the league in defensive rating and third in VORP.

Curry likely would have finished either first or second in MVP voting a year ago if the Warriors had been higher in the standings, and as long as they're playing as well as they have so far, it is hard to imagine anyone overtaking Curry for the award.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast