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MVP race: Curry, Durant early frontrunners

Published December 9, 2021, 8:00 AMChuck Araneta
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A month and a half in the season, NBA.com Philippines' Chuck Araneta breaks down the top five candidates for the KIA Most Valuable Player award.

With one quarter of the NBA season done, the race for the KIA Most Valuable Player award is definitely on with superstars staking their claim. Here are five standouts who are leading the pack.

1. Steph Curry

Steph Curry has been so undeniably incredible this season that people have stopped discussing how good he plays and are more focused on the scoring milestone he’s planning to break. This week, he has his sights set on the all-time 3 pointers made record set by Ray Allen. As of posting time, he only needs 16 to top Allen. At the rate Curry’s been shooting, the only question left is how many games until he breaks the record. Can he do it in three games? Or even two? Heck, the way he has been shooting, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do it in one.

2. Kevin Durant

The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Month has seen no drop-off from his torrid pace to begin the season. But what makes KD’s game so eye-popping is how he refuses to adhere to everyone’s expectations of what a scoring leader in 2022 should be. His game isn’t hinged on purely 3-pointers, free throws, and high-volume field attempts - rather he shoots from anywhere on the floor without a care in the world. So whether it’s a mid-range jumper or a rainbow from the parking lot, best believe KD will let it fly for the Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets.

3. Nikola Jokic

It might surprise you to know this, but Jokic has been as good as his MVP season last year. The only problem is that his teammates are all dropping like flies. Without Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and a random assortment of players getting knicks and bruises, Jokic has had to dig even deeper into his bag of tracks to keep his team above water. With averages of 25.6 points, 13.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.2 steals, the Joker continues to cement his spot as the best center in the NBA today.

4. Chris Paul

The winning streak may have ended, but CP3 and the Suns have definitely put the entire league on alert. Their terrifying mix of unselfish basketball and disciplined defense has been almost unsolvable before Devin Booker went down with a hamstring injury. It’s a good thing that Chris Paul continues to do Chris Paul things. The Point God has been his usual masterful self, orchestrating everything from his perch in the backcourt, ensuring that his teammates are in the best position to succeed.

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Greek Freak recently celebrated his 27th birthday, serving a reminder just how incredible his story is. A video recently surfaced that showed a wide-eyed Giannis before his NBA journey began looking up at the rafters, believing that his jersey will soon be placed next to legends like Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson. Fast forward to 2022, that’s a foregone conclusion. We can’t wait to see the heights that Antetokounmpo can still reach moving forward.