Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic was the runaway winner of the 2021 NBA MVP award, but voters also managed to acknowledge the stupendous season that Steph Curry put together.
The Warriors' guard finished in third place in the MVP voting with 453 total points, but received the most first-place votes of any player other than Jokic.
Of the 10 first-place votes that didn't go to Jokic, five went to Curry. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid received only one first-place vote, but finished second overall in MVP voting with 596 total points due to having considerably more second-place votes (62) than Curry received (23).
Curry also received 32 third-place votes, 23 fourth-place votes and 13 fifth-place votes. Of the 15 players that received any votes whatsoever, Curry was the only one whose team failed to qualify for the playoffs.
The fact that he managed to finish third in total voting just goes to show how incredible of a season he had.
Curry made a valiant charge for his third career MVP award, but it likely came too late after some voters had already made up their minds. The league's leading scorer caught fire over Golden State's final 21 games, averaging 37.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.0 steal per contest on 49.2 percent shooting from the field and 44.3 percent shooting from 3-point range.
Without him, the Warriors surely would have ended up near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, like they did the previous season when he was limited to just five games due to injury. Instead, Curry led Golden State to an eighth-place regular-season finish, putting the team on his back on a nightly basis. Perhaps if the Warriors had finished a few spots higher in the standings, it might have been enough to substantially sway the voting.
In any case, the voters ultimately got it right. Jokic is entirely deserving of his first career MVP award, and Curry's mind-blowing season didn't go unrecognized.