The 2022 NBA MVP race stays hot. There are several candidates to win the award at the end of the campaign and it seems like every week the narrative suffers a big change in the top 10. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant dominated the competition during the first two months, but things have changed since December.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is leading the race in many eyes, but he has pursuers looking for the same goal. They won’t rest until they dethrone Nikola Jokic, who won the award last season. The Joker is the player who got a major boost this week in the ranking, overtaking Kevin Durant and going from 3rd to 2nd to become Giannis’ closest pursuer.
Like every week, Michael C. Wright of NBA.com takes us through the top 10 MVP candidates in the NBA. This time, the top 5 had two big changes, with Jokic surpassing former leader Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan breaking through the five best candidates.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone wasn’t wrong about Jokic on Tuesday after Denver’s loss to the Clippers in saying, “I think he is one of the more disrespected reigning MVPs that I can think of in terms of attention. If you open up the dictionary, look up the word consistency, there’s going to be a picture of Nikola there.” Perhaps so. The fact Jokic continues to produce without Jamal Murry, Michael Porter Jr. and P.J. Dozier is even more impressive as Denver is two games over .500. Jokic’s current numbers are close to his MVP season, when he averaged 26.4 points on 56.6% shooting to go with 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists. Jokic was still dropping dimes in Thursday’s win over Portland.
The Chicago Bulls star already drew MVP buzz when he connected back-to-back buzzer-beaters, taking the team to the top of the Eastern Conference. Despite suffering a big loss to the Brooklyn Nets earlier this week, DeRozan is still a solid candidate to win this award.
DeRozan and the Bulls caught a buzzsaw Wednesday when the Brooklyn Nets came to town, and Chicago is now 2-2 since the last edition of Kia Race to the MVP Ladder. DeRozan produced 19 points on 9 of 16 from the floor against the Nets, and the Bulls are just 3-4 this season when he finishes with fewer 20 points. Since running off a nine-game winning streak, the Bulls have lost two of their last three. But Chicago faces a struggling Curry and the Golden State Warriors playing the second leg of a back-to-back on Friday at the United Center.
One of the first leaders of this list, Stephen Curry, has dropped out of the top 5, ranking 6th in this week’s ladder. Ja Morant keeps climbing positions, ranking 7th, going up three positions compared to last week.
The Next Five
6. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (Last week: No. 5)
7. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies (Last week: No. 10)
8. Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns (Last week: No. 8)
9. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (Last week: No. 7)
10. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz (Last week: No. 9)
A week can change a lot in the NBA. This one, however, the leading candidate saved his position after a commanding win over Stephen Curry’s Warriors. Joel Embiid is quietly doing his job and even though some people like Charles Barkley think he’s the No. 1 candidate right now, the Philadelphia 76ers center needs to keep this pace to aspire to that top spot.
The Denver Nuggets can’t reach the top 4 this week, but if Jokic leads them to a good streak, he’ll probably take down Giannis. This is still a long run and the leader of the ranking can change in a week. We have to sit and enjoy all these players giving their everything for the coveted MVP award.