NBA MVP Race: Jan. 14
The NBA has almost hit the midway point of its season with many players having excellent seasons. The end-of-year award races are one of the most important narratives every NBA season, and that has not changed this year. With that in mind, here are the current favorites for the NBA’s regular-season MVP award.
Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets have seemingly struggled at times this season, experiencing several issues such as Kyrie Irving’s absence at the beginning of the season, James Harden’s inconsistent shooting and a strange, underperforming bench unit.
Yet, Brooklyn stands as the East’s current second seed nonetheless, and it is all because of Kevin Durant. Durant has been a stone-cold killer all year long. He is currently the NBA’s scoring leader, tallying 29.8 points per game on impressively efficient shooting numbers.
Remarkably, KD is also playing over 37 minutes per game, the most he’s played since 2014. If Durant continues to be such a lethal scorer for Brooklyn, he could be headed towards his second career MVP honor.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo cemented his already-legendary status in Milwaukee last season by leading the Bucks to their first championship in five decades. Despite this achievement, Antetokounmpo has not taken his foot off the gas during his 2021/22 campaign.
The Greek Freak has once again been dominant, posting an impressive stat line of 28 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists per contest, while also shooting 54% from the field.
While it’s hard for Antetokounmpo to improve much on paper at this stage in his career, it is worth noting that his MVP case has further support.
This stems from the fact that Milwaukee is still in the playoff race despite numerous absences from other key Bucks like Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and, most severely, Brook Lopez. That is all thanks to their reliable superstar forward.
If the Bucks maintain their championship-caliber play, there is no reason Giannis can’t claim his third MVP in four years.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
While many expected the Warriors to return to contention in 2022 after two years outside the postseason, few expected Golden State to be as imposing as the team has been. Of course, when you have Stephen Curry on your team, things that may seem impossible can soon come to fruition.
The NBA’s all-time three-point leader has been staking his claim for a third career MVP award thus far, scoring 26 points per contest for a Warriors team that is in a heated battle with Phoenix for the top seed in the Western Conference.
A drawback on Curry’s candidacy is his recent shooting slump, shooting just 38.9% from the field over his last 20 games.
With his fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson recently making his long-awaited comeback from injury, perhaps Curry will find the spark he needs to get back to being a prime MVP candidate.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers have endured plenty of chaos both in the past year, as well as essentially all of the past decade. But, through thick and thin, one man remains a steady and dependable presence, and that is Joel Embiid.
The Sixers’ franchise center has been phenomenal this season, currently proving to be the anchor for a team that is on a seven-game win streak which has helped them re-affirm their status as Eastern Conference contenders.
Embiid has looked like a man on a mission, putting up 27 points and 10 boards per game, while also posting career highs in assists and three-point percentage.
While Embiid’s current lack of a second star opposite him may prevent Philadelphia from winning the championship in 2022, the 76ers nonetheless should have high hopes for the future knowing that they have 21 on its squad.
Joe Tuman is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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