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NBA MVP Power Rankings: Kevin Durant Is Out Of The MVP Race, Giannis Antetokounmpo Is The Favorite Now

NBA MVP Power Rankings: Kevin Durant Is Out Of The MVP Race, Giannis Antetokounmpo Is The Favorite Now

In some breaking news, Kevin Durant is out for 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain which could alter the entire landscape of the NBA for 2 months and could also affect the MVP race as well. Kevin Durant was easily a top-3 MVP candidate this season by putting up 29.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 5.8 APG on 52.0% shooting from the field and 37.2% shooting from three. Despite the absence of Kyrie Irving and the early struggles of James Harden, Kevin Durant somehow led the Brooklyn Nets to the number one seed in the East for most of the season.

But with Durant out, a lot of names move up in the MVP race. We are seeing some incredible displays by top superstars this season, and once again, the MVP race is heating up as All-Star Weekend nears. Durant’s injury is certainly a big factor this season because the top-2 MVP candidates could be in the clear as they look to battle it out before the end of the season. Here are the updated MVP power rankings taking into account Durant’s absence for the next 2 months.

Is Kevin Durant Out Of MVP Race?

Kevin Durant was in the MVP race this season through 36 games played, but missing 4-6 weeks could mean he is out of the race for good. He was easily a top-3 MVP candidate this year because he had to overcome the lack of talent on his roster for most of the season. The Nets were considered a superteam at the start of the season, but Kyrie has only appeared in 3 games this year and Harden struggled tremendously at the start of the year. Sharpshooter Joe Harris has also only played 14 games, averaging 11.3 PPG.

Without much help, Durant has been supremely efficient from the field and has had to endure a ton of pressure by playing heavy minutes (36.5 MPG). It seems unfair for Durant to be exiled from the MVP race so soon, but missing nearly 2 full months of basketball means the superstar will play under 60 games this season. That simply won’t cut it considering the top-10 list of MVP favorites this year.

There are a few title-contenders with superstars on the roster and other playoff teams with superstar talents of their own. With the amount of superstar talent in the NBA right now, it will be hard for Durant to even get close to the top-10 again once he returns to NBA action after 4-6 weeks. Considering that the Nets are all-in for the NBA title this year, it is very likely that KD will not return at all during the regular season which means the Nets will not be crowning an MVP during the 2021-2022 season.

If we look at the last 10 MVP winners when there was a complete 82-game season (excluding  2011-12, 2019-20, 2020-21), Giannis Antetokounmpo (2018-19) and James Harden (2017-18) played the least number of games (72) while still winning the MVP award.

Taking into consideration that Kevin Durant has already missed 6 games this season, if he returns in 6 weeks (March 1 against the Raptors), he will miss 19 more games. This would mean that he could only play in a maximum of 57 games this season. This implies that he is out of MVP consideration as the Nets will probably also have a minutes restriction for him when he returns.

10. Ja Morant

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2021-2022 NBA Stats: 24.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 6.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Ja Morant might be the most exciting player in the league this season because his athleticism and explosiveness are off the charts. Beyond his physical capabilities, Morant has improved almost every aspect of his game including his shooting and rebounding (both career-highs). With his improved efficiency and natural clutch gene, Ja Morant is coming for the best point guards in the league if he hasn't already.

Morant’s MVP race depends on his team’s standings, as the Memphis Grizzlies hold the 4th seed in the West with an impressive 30-15 record. If Memphis convincingly hold a top-3 seed in the West, Ja has a great chance to climb the MVP rankings in due time. As of now, he enters the top-10 as Kevin Durant is no longer a candidate in the rankings.

9. Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine

2021-22 NBA Stats: 24.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Alongside DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine has had a major impact on the Chicago Bulls as they hold the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Nobody expected Chicago to lead the likes of the Nets and Bucks for the top spot, which means both DeRozan and LaVine deserve to be in the MVP race.

Zach LaVine’s shooting numbers this season have been extraordinary, as he averages 49.1% from the field, 41.2% from three, and 87.2% from the free-throw line. The explosive scorer is becoming one of the most dominant offensive players in the game, and he has shown unselfishness to allow DeRozan space to play at an elite level. LaVine wants to win at all costs, and his play is evidence of that.

8. James Harden

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2021-22 NBA Stats: 22.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 10.0 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.8 BPG

James Harden has overcome his early-season struggles and is getting into his rhythm again. Putting up a double-double, The Beard is having a tremendous season on the stat sheet despite his shooting percentages (41.9% FG, 33.8% 3-PT FG). With Kevin Durant out for most of the season, Harden has a chance to be right back in the MVP race once again.

Eighth place is not bad by any means, but Harden has the talent to be in the top-5 every season. The Beard will likely have Kyrie Irving available for most of the season going forward, so he will have enough help to maintain a top-2 seed in the East. If James puts up MVP numbers and holds a top-2 seed without Durant, he could be a legitimate MVP favorite.

7. Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert

2021-22 NBA Stats: 15.5 PPG, 15.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.8 SPG, 2.3 BPG

The Utah Jazz are one heck of a team because they compete on an elite level on both ends of the floor. Donovan Mitchell is the best talent on the team because of his explosive scoring ability, but Rudy Gobert has been the man this season. His impact has been undeniably great because he is putting up a career-high in rebounds and field-goal percentage.

There is no question that, other than Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert has been the most physically dominant player on defense this season. Draymond Green does not have the raw size that Gobert has, which makes the Jazz star a more formidable defender as a prototypical big man. Even if Rudy needs his teammates to feed him easy looks on offense, his double-double average makes him a top-10 MVP candidate with ease.

6. Chris Paul

Chris Paul

2021-22 NBA Stats: 14.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 10.0 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Chris Paul, at nearly 37 years old, is still one of the best point guards in the league. Paul’s presence was the main reason Phoenix made a Finals run last year, and they could be in the running again this year. Even if the Suns lost last year, they look hungry to get there again.

Paul’s numbers are elite for a player of his age, and it is amazing how he has been able to average a double-double by this stage of the season. The Suns hold the number one seed in the Western Conference by 2.5 games ahead of the Golden State Warriors, which means either Paul or Booker deserves a spot in the top-10. Since Paul is the primary ballhandler and leader, he gets the nod.

5. Joel Embiid

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2021-22 NBA Stats: 27.2 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.4 BPG

Joel Embiid is playing some fantastic basketball at the moment, and without him, the Philadelphia 76ers are not in the playoff race (especially without Ben Simmons). The center is putting up ridiculous numbers across the board, and he impacts the game in all areas. Averaging a career-high in assists and a career-low in turnovers, Embiid is easily a top-5 player in the MVP race.

The Sixers will likely be making major moves before the trade deadline this year, which means Embiid might be getting more help soon. Philadelphia have some tradeable assets including Simmons and Tobias Harris, so they need to make the final touches to give their franchise superstar the players he needs to make the Eastern Conference Finals.

4. DeMar DeRozan

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2021-22 NBA Stats: 25.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG

DeMar DeRozan has been the most important piece this season for the Chicago Bulls because his scoring has been exceptional. The perimeter scorer is averaging 25.7 PPG on 48.8% shooting from the field, 35.2% from three, and 85.6% from the stripe. Of course, DeMar has gone off in the 4th quarter all season long.

The Chicago Bulls currently hold the number one seed in the East, which automatically places their best player in the top-5 running for the MVP award. DeMar DeRozan is a master of the mid-range and has effectively brought success back to the Bulls since the prime Derrick Rose days. Bulls fans are happy again, and DeRozan is a big part of that.

3. Nikola Jokic

Michael Malone: "Nikola Jokic Is Not Sexy. He's Just Not. His Wife Might Disagree. There's Nothing About Nikola That Is Sexy To People."

2021-22 NBA Stats: 25.3 PPG, 13.9 RPG, 7.2 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Nikola Jokic is the most dominant big man in the game right now because he literally affects every aspect of the court every night. The Serbian superstar can get triple-doubles with ease because his raw size makes him grab every rebound off the rim. His pure skills make him a gifted passer and shooter, and he has the best post-game in the league.

Jokic dominates every matchup he is in, and the game comes too easy for him because of that. The Nuggets should be a title contender when fully healthy, and despite the absence of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr, they are in the playoff race thanks to their reigning MVP center.

2. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

2021-22 NBA Stats: 26.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Stephen Curry is the best point guard in the world right now, and it isn’t close despite his recent shooting slump. The Golden State Warriors have benefitted tremendously from Curry’s presence because he is still putting up MVP-caliber numbers every game. Even if Steph goes cold from three during a game, he still finds a way to league.

Curry’s averages of 26.3 PPG on 38.4% shooting from three, superb numbers from a player that faces constant double and triple teams throughout the year. Without Steph, Golden State do not hold a top-2 seed in the West and also do not have championship hopes. Once Klay Thompson returns, the Warriors could start racking up more wins which could benefit Curry in the MVP race.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo 2017

2021-22 NBA Stats: 28.5 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.5 BPG

Giannis is having another tremendous season, playing extremely consistent basketball without hitting a single slump this season. Even Stephen Curry has had to undergo a shooting slump, something The Greek Freak has tet to go through. The Milwaukee Bucks go as Giannis goes, and they are inching closer to the top-seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks are only 2.0 games behind the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the East, and that is thanks to Giannis’ impact. With Durant out of the picture and Curry likely to miss some more shots throughout the season, Giannis is in his absolute prime and will be the driving force behind the Bucks getting close to making a second-straight Finals appearance at the end of the year.


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