With the All-Star break on the horizon, we’re almost at the (unofficial) midpoint of the 2021-22 NBA season.

As the playoff image begins to take shape, the MVP battle is as open as ever, with up to seven players getting a real shot at taking home the award.

Last month, Nets star Kevin Durant ranked first on The Sporting News MVP ladder. Since then, several players have increased their chances.

So without further ado, we’ve got you covered with our top five, starting January 11.

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Honorable mentions

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Some players that deserve mention:

  • Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns (Last Month: No. 5)
  • Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
  • Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
  • LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Embiid has returned to an MVP level of play in the past two weeks for the 76ers and could well have replaced Curry for last place in the top five.

For now, Curry hangs on to kick off our top five.

5. Stephen Curry, Warriors of the Golden State

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Last month: No. 2

After his scorching start to the season, Curry has slipped back to fifth in the MVP race, and his score is cooling to a point.

MORE: NBA Twitter Celebrates Klay Thompson’s Return

Curry hasn’t crossed the 30-point mark since Christmas Day and the Warriors are 4-3 in their last seven games. However, they remain atop the Western Conference, tied with the Suns for the league’s best record at 30-9.

With Klay Thompson now back in the lineup after a two-year absence, Curry can now transfer some of the offense to his backcourt teammate, which could well hurt his MVP chances, but as is. things, he is still the best player on the team. with the best record in the league.

4. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

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Last month: Number 3

The injury-depleted Nuggets are hovering around .500, thanks in large part to the monstrous production of Jokic, who keeps them chasing the playoffs.

Jokic’s numbers this season have been nothing short of absurd, improving his game since his MVP winning campaign in 2020-21, he currently ranks second in rebounding, ninth in scoring and 13th in assists.

He is also currently tied with James Harden for the second-most triple-doubles in the league this season with seven, behind only Russell Westbrook (9), and has recorded three games of 20+ points and 20+ rebounds, all. coming in the last three weeks. The rest of the league has combined for seven such games, and no other player has done it more than once.

3. DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls

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Last month: unclassified

DeRozan was outside looking at the MVP race last month, but the Bulls star has strengthened his case, propelling Chicago to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

MORE: Stats for the Bulls’ nine-game win streak

His rise has been fueled by a nine-game winning streak, which included two consecutive DeRozan winners, becoming the first player to do so since Larry Bird in 1985.

DeRozan, who currently leads the East guards in All-Star voting, is averaging 26.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists on the season.

2. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

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Last month: No. 1

Durant has been one of the most consistent players this season and currently leads the league in scoring with 29.9 points per game, setting him up for his highest scoring average since winning the MVP in 2014 (32.0 points per game).

He is currently tied with Hawks guard Trae Young and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo for the second-most 30-point games this season (15), behind LeBron James, who leads the league with 18. .

Durant has been his old man lately, but it hasn’t been enough to prevent the Nets from going 2-4 in their last six games, dropping them to 25-14 on the season.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

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Last month: No. 4

After passing health and safety protocols in time for the Bucks’ Christmas Day showdown against the Celtics, Antetokounmpo has been torn apart.

Antetokounmpo’s Christmas exploits included 36 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks, one of which sealed the victory.

The Bucks have had a relatively light schedule in that span, but Antetokounmpo has been hurting teams, including 31 points in a win over Durant and the Nets.

In his last eight games, the Greek Freak averages 32.4 points, 10.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists on 57.8 percent shooting from the field.

With the Bucks climbing the rankings to fourth in the East, just 3.0 games behind the No. 1-seeded Bulls, Antetokounmpo is making his move to earn his third MVP in four seasons.