Ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season, our NBA.com Staff share their predictions for who they believe will be crowned Most Valuable Player.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I think Kevin Durant will be this season's MVP.
In his first season back after taking a full year off to recover from a torn Achilles, Durant got back to being the most unstoppable scorer in the league. Averaging 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game while nearly shooting 50-40-90, the 11-time All-Star put together a stat line that would have warranted MVP consideration if not for only appearing in 35 games due to other nagging injuries and rest.
Because of his absences, Durant didn't even make an All-NBA team. But when the playoffs came around, the four-time scoring champ was ready to perform, averaging 34.3 points per game while putting the Brooklyn Nets inches away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.
I believe that in his second year back from his Achilles injury, Durant will be much more prepared to endure the 82-game regular season, competing in enough games to win MVP. Playing alongside two other superstars in James Harden and Kyrie Irving may hurt his case, but the Nets are Durant's team and if they own the best record in the league, it will be nearly impossible to avoid rewarding KD with his second MVP trophy.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): I find myself siding with Giannis Antetokounmpo the closer we get to the season.
One, we know Antetokounmpo is going to post numbers worthy of MVP consideration. Two, we know the Bucks are going to be good in the regular season. Maybe not best-record-in-the-Eastern-Conference good, but there's no reason why they shouldn't finish the regular season with one of the four best records in the Eastern Conference. Three, he's the only real MVP candidate on his team, which can't be said for Durant, who I also gave strong consideration to. Four, I think there was some voter fatigue after he went back-to-back. After leading the Bucks to their first championship in 50 years, I'm guessing that'll be a thing of the past.
Finally, we saw some real growth from Antetokounmpo in the playoffs. It seemed like he figured out some of the stuff that has held him back in the past.
Assuming it carries over into this season, a third MVP award is certainly within reach for Antetokounmpo.
Kane Pitman (@KanePitman): I'm going to have to go along with Scott and predict Giannis Antetokounmpo is set to win his third MVP trophy by the age of 27.
At the beginning of last season, I had Luka Doncic taking the award and a big part of that was because we knew Antetokounmpo would not win for a third straight season. Rightly or wrongly, the Greek Freak was penalised for the Bucks' postseason failures, but even with that obstacle, the numbers were becoming hard to ignore. The one thing you can take to the bank with Antetokounmpo is the continuous development of his game.
Most point to the 3-point shot, but forget about it, I'm looking to see him continue to work in the post. We've seen strides in his turnaround jump shot, hook shot, passing ability and vision out of double and triple teams. He's continuing to evolve and now that the Bucks have a championship in the bank, the voters are likely to reward him once again if good health is combined with the usual gaudy numbers.
Doncic is a close second, I'm just not sure the Mavericks can finish high enough in the standings, which is usually an important factor.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): Production, team success and health are probably the biggest factors when considering who will be the MVP in a particular season, so with that in mind, I'm rolling with Stephen Curry.
I think the Warriors, who were battling for a Play-in spot last season, should be significantly better given the fact that their lineup should feature more of Klay Thompson and James Wiseman. And while we'll still have to see how both of them look coming off of injury, I think their mere presence will slot everyone back into their proper roles, which will mean Curry won't have to go Super Saiyan every night for the Warriors to compete like he did toward the back end of last season.
We know Curry will put up the MVP calibre numbers regardless of the team's record so we don't have to spend much time on that.
The only real concern will be if Curry can play enough games to get the necessary votes. In his two previous MVP campaigns, Curry played at least 79 games. I don't expect him to do that, but he'll have to play at least 70-72 games to have a shot in my opinion. I think that's doable so I feel comfortable in my decision with Curry picking up his third MVP award.
Full disclosure, I was pretty close to picking Nikola Jokic.
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