This season's MVP race has been one of the most talked-about races we had in recent history, with numerous players being in and out of the conversation throughout the year. All the injuries, Covid protocols, and abnormalities made this one of the weirdest and most unique races in history. At least ten names were in the conversation for getting MVP honors as the season paced along, but some names stayed there from the end to the finish, players like Nikola Jokić and Joel Embiid, the two front-runners.
Stephen Curry's run at the end of the season was so remarkable that his name got serious consideration in the MVP conversation. Steph managed to will the Warriors to the 8th seed, averaging 32.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 5.8 apg while shooting 48,2% from the field and 42,1% from three-point land. He will have to lead his Warriors into battle against the Grizzlies for the 8th seed and a potential first-round matchup with the Utah Jazz.
Damian Lillard also had a great stretch during the season, getting some MVP nods, but his case cooled off towards the end of the season. At least he is sitting comfortably in the 6th seed and waiting for an exciting Nuggets series. Dame spoke for the Athletic and talked about Steph's MVP chances, seeing himself in Curry's shoes, as he compared Steph to himself last season.
"Obviously, there has to be a conversation about him being in the conversation. But I don't think he wins it. At the eight seed, I just don't see how that works. Last year, it was people like (ESPN's) Stephen A. (Smith saying) 'Man, I love what Dame is doing but he can't be the MVP because they're the eighth seed.' You know what I'm saying? But last year, I averaged 30 points and eight assists on 46 (percent) from the field, 40 from the three-point line and 90 from free throw (it was actually 88.8). But last year, they're like, 'Man, we can't consider him an MVP because they're the eighth seed.' And now it's like it's ok. For me, that's the way that I'm looking at it. (Curry) is definitely in the conversation. There's no way that you don't have him in the conversation."
Damian Lillard, The Athletic
Dame has shown great respect for his rival Curry on numerous occasions, as he definitely didn't mean this as a slight. Lillard saw himself in that situation, as last season he was averaging great numbers only to barely make the playoffs as the 8th seed and be out of the running for MVP, just like Curry this year. But as it usually goes down with the MVP award, it is the best player on one of the teams with the best record that season.
One of the rare players that managed to win MVP without being a top seed was Russell Westbrook in 2017 when his Oklahoma City Thunder finished as the 6th seed with a 47-35 record. To be fair, he got rewarded for making history and averaging a triple-double for the first time in history. But considering he did three more times after, it seems less logical now.
Anyway, Curry has been amazing this season, possibly individually the best we have ever seen him. Still, as his Warriors are not the force they used to be, he just doesn't have enough team success to be placed in front of the likes of Nikola Jokić or Joel Embiid. If he manages to will his Warriors into the playoffs and upset a few teams, he could prove the voters wrong. We are here for all of it.