Community Shootaround: MVP Race

Now that the season is more than halfway through, it’s time to do another check-in on the MVP race. After a terrific start to the season, it seemed like Warriors star Stephen Curry might be a lock for his third trophy if he maintained his production — unfortunately, he’s been in one of the worst slumps of his career the past couple of months.

Through his first 20 games of the season, running through the end of November, Curry was averaging 27.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.6 APG, and 1.9 SPG on .452/.412/.943 shooting. From the start of December until now, a span of 21 games, those numbers have fallen to 25.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 5.6 APG, and 1.1 SPG on .395/.359/.900 shooting. Curry recently had a stretch of nine straight games of shooting below 50% from the field, unheard of for the greatest shooter ever.

After starting the season 24-5, the Warriors have gone 8-8 over their last 16 games, so the team has cooled off recently as well. However, at 32-13, Golden State still holds the second-best record in the league, only trailing the 35-9 Suns. There’s still time for Curry to turn things around, but other players have certainly performed better lately.

The NBA’s leading scorer, Kevin Durant, looked like a top contender for the award prior to suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee on January 16, which is expected to sideline him for four-to-six weeks. Through 36 games, he’s averaged 29.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 5.8 APG on .520/.372/.894 shooting. The injury and missed games could ruin his MVP chances, but he’s been excellent for the Nets, who hold a 29-16 record in the East.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, the reigning MVP, has been carrying his team in the absence of several injured players, including the teams second- and third-leading scorers from last season, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Although Denver is just 23-21 (1-4 without Jokic), he has been completely dominant, averaging 25.9 PPG, 13.9 RPG, 7.4 APG, and 1.4 SPG on .569/.367/.789 shooting. Jokic leads the league in several advanced stats, including win shares, box plus/minus, and value over replacement player, per Basketball-Reference.

Over the past five-plus weeks, Sixers center Joel Embiid has arguably been the best player in the league, putting up 33.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.5 BPG on .550/.380/.837 shooting in just 32.3 MPG (15 games) — more than a point per minute, and nearly 12 free throw attempts per game. His season averages are quite impressive too, but he’s played just 33 games to this point, which is always a concern with the injury-plagued big man. There’s no denying his impact when active, as Philadelphia holds a 23-11 record when he plays, and is just 3-8 in games he’s missed.

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is another top contender, stuffing the staff sheet with 28.6 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.5 BPG while playing strong defense for the defending champion Bucks, who hold a 29-19 record.

Lakers superstar LeBron James continues to impress in season 19 at 37 years of age, putting up stellar numbers yet again, but Los Angeles has struggled and sit at 23-23 through 46 games. Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan is having an outstanding season and should at least be in the conversation — Chicago is 28-16, second-best in the East.

Suns guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker deserve recognition as the two best players on the league’s best team, although they figure to take votes away from each other and don’t have the same type of numbers as other candidates. Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant is having fantastic third season and could garner some votes. Memphis is 32-16 after defeating Denver Friday night.

We want to know what you think. Who’s been the MVP so far? Who do you think will end up winning the award? Are there any dark-horse candidates you like? What would your five-man ballot look like at this point?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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