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Real or mirage: Stephen Curry is making another Kia MVP run this season?
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Steve Aschburner: Real, but ... Curry is making another MVP-worthy run, which means he’ll deserve serious consideration on that 5-spot ballot by season’s end, if he continues at this pace. Statistically, he’s performing like a mirror image of his 2015-16 self, when he won that award unanimously (all 131 first-place votes). Two factors present possible challenges. First, Kevin Durant wasn’t with Golden State that season, and Draymond Green and Klay Thompson hadn’t fully established themselves. A lot of voters, myself included, weigh the help an All-Star player has on hand when casting our ballots. That’s why LeBron sometimes slid down a few spots when teaming with Wade and Bosh in Miami or Irving and Love in Cleveland. The second factor is the competition. The No. 2 finisher behind Curry in 2015-16, Kawhi Leonard, averaged 21.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists, won Kia Defensive Player of the Year and led his team to 67 victories. James went 25.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 6.8 apg, with 57 victories. Right now, though, Giannis Antetokounmpo is at 25.8 ppg, 13.3 rpg and 5.9 apg on a Bucks team on pace to win 66. Toronto’s Kyle Lowry has been playing like vintage Steve Nash with the Raptors on pace to crash 70 victories. Arguably tougher field, at this early stage.
Tas Melas: Real, but unlikely. Steph is healthy, in his prime, and still improving. He is better than his Kia MVP seasons, but to overcome voters who think he isn't his team's best player or those who simply have voter/Warriors fatigue, he's gonna have to do something special to win. Like Russell Westbrook and his triple-double average in 2017, Curry has to do something historically good. He put up 50/45/90 shooting splits in 2016 when he won. Can he get to 50/50/90? That would be incredibly tough but I think that's the type of achievement he needs to win his third.
Shaun Powell: Very real. Curry is putting up solid numbers which, for him, means he's pushing towards 30 points and six 3-pointers a night. This pace keeps him in the mix and possibly the favorite, although I suspect Giannis Antetokounmpo will have a say in the race before it's done, especially if the Bucks finish among the top three in the East.
John Schuhmann: Real. Curry probably won't continue to average 31 points on an effective field goal percentage of 66 percent, and the Warriors have three other stars to take some of the credit for the team's success. But if they're head and shoulders better than the rest of the league in the regular season, voters would have to think of their most important player as an MVP candidate. We all understand that Curry's importance to the Golden State offense (which has scored 11 more points per 100 possessions than the league average, a mark which would be a record over a full season) goes beyond his own numbers. His unparalleled ability to shoot off the dribble and his movement when he doesn't have the ball are the foundation for what the Warriors do.
Sekou Smith: Steph's MVP campaign is absolutely real. The Warriors' early blitz is certainly aiding his cause and Steph's play right now certainly puts him in the thick of the Kia MVP chase. It's not clear to me that he's actually made it a conscious move to try and see if he can win a third MVP. The competition this season is only going to get more and more interesting as things roll along. So much will depend on who stays healthy throughout a long season where the scores are rising and anything is possible on a given night. I don't think it means as much to Steph as the Warriors' pursuit of another Larry O'Brien Trophy. But if you can double up this season, why not?