NBA MVP preview: Stephen Curry has a wonderful chance to win his third crown

The race for Most Valuable Player in the NBA is always an intriguing one. But who will take the crown in this year’s campaign.

Nikola Jokic took home the honour last season - becoming the first Denver Nugget and the lowest-drafted player to be MVP in league history.

The Joker will be in the frame, but will it be him, another previous winner, or a new kid on the block that wins the prestigious award?

Planet Sport MVP pick: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

'Chef Curry' is the only unanimous MVP in the history of the league - winning the second of his two awards after the Warriors went 73-9 in the 15/16 regular season. To win this award without a single other first-place vote going to one of your peers is an astounding achievement.

The Warriors welcome back Klay Thompson at some point this season after two horrific injuries. James Wiseman will also return after a knee injury ended his rookie year 39 games in.

They also have Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Otto Porter Jr on the roster. The point being, they are a lot stronger than they have been in the past two seasons, which bodes well for Curry.

Last season, Steph finished third in MVP voting, meaning he has been voted for the award in eight separate seasons during his career.

He pipped Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal to the scoring title, averaging 32 points per game, alongside 5.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals.

The 33-year-old is the greatest shooter of all time and debatably the second-best point guard to ever play the game. After all, he has basically revolutionised the league with his shoot-from-anywhere approach.

His third-place finish last year was ridiculously impressive. The Warriors made the Play-In Tournament, but not the Playoffs, yet he was still in contention for the award. With an improved and healthy roster, Golden State will reach the Playoffs, and are in contention for the title once again.

Curry's ability to go off on any night for 50+ points is scary, and with that added motivation to challenge for the title, he has a wonderful chance to win his third MVP.

NBA MVP favourite: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic has been in the league three years and is already a 2x All Star, winning Rookie of the Year in the only year he was not an All Star.

His career trajectory looks insane, and he will 100 per cent win an MVP in his career - barring injuries. A first MVP in 21/22 is plausible, especially as he continues to improve every season.

The Slovenian averaged 27.7 PPG last season, before averaging 35.7 in the Playoffs as the Mavericks were beaten in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers. On top of this, Doncic was a machine for Slovenia at the Olympics.

He carried his nation to the Bronze Medal Game, dropping 48 points in his Olympic debut against a decent Argentina team.

He is the favourite for the award for a reason, the Mavs are not quite there yet in terms of competing for a championship, but Doncic is playing at an MVP level - especially if you consider the number of assists and rebounds (7.7 and 8.4 in his career) he contributes as well.

Averaging around 30 points, and close to, if not, a triple-double will pretty much make him a shoo-in for MVP. This is very possible, especially if he goes into every regular season match as if he is playing in the Playoffs, or for his country.

The best NBA MVP long shot: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Perhaps a surprise choice, Jayson Tatum is getting better and better every season. He jumped from 15.7 PPG in 2018 to 23.7 PPG the following year, before averaging 26.4 in 20/21.

At 23 years old, Tatum is a superb all-round player, and has potential to carry the Celtics in what will be a huge season for the franchise as a whole. Brad Stevens became president of basketball operations in July, with former San Antonio Spur Ime Udoka taking over as head coach. It's a transitional period, for sure.

Tatum has shown his ability to lead a team at his young age - much like Doncic - and averaged over 30 points against the stacked Brooklyn Nets in last season's Playoffs, even taking a game from them as they lost in five.

Also, like Doncic, an MVP in his career seems inevitable. Tatum is a clutch player and a great shooter and has been compared to the great Kobe Bryant.

For the 2017 third overall pick to win the award this season, he will need to play out of his skin, and the Celtics will need to do well. Both are feasible, but with it being a transitional period for the franchise, it is hard to predict.

Tatum's skill-set is there to be seen, however, and he has potential to average 30 points across a season. Admittedly, the Celtics' roster is not great, but the combination of All Star duo Jaylen Brown and Tatum could be enough to make the Play-In, at the very least.

Honourable mentions: Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Considering we predicted the Bucks to win the title, not including a player from the franchise in this piece would be slightly contradictory.

They are the current champions, so it is fair to say they are the best team in the league.

Their best player is clearly Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is a very strong contender for the MVP this season, two years on from winning his first of two. Last season he averaged 28.1 PPG, 11 RPG and just over one steal and block each.

Besides the competition for the award, load management could hinder Giannis' chances of winning MVP. If he doesn't play the vast majority of games, he will not win the award.

As for Kevin Durant, he plays for the favourites to win the title, and is arguably the best player in the world.

An elite defender and shooter, KD is the best out-and-out scorer in the league and doesn't look like a 33-year-old fresh off a torn Achilles tendon - which he is, by the way.

In the summer he overtook Carmelo Anthony as the highest scorer in the Olympics history, leading Team USA to a gold medal. The Nets could finish with the best record in the league, and if the 2x champion, 2x Finals MVP and 1x MVP leads the league in scoring along the way, he could be a shoo-in for his second MVP.

Much like Tatum, Damian Lillard is the best player on a not very good team, and he will be playing under a new head coach.

Last year Dame averaged 28.8 points and 7.5 assists, a year on from his 30 PPG season.

Lillard can score from literally anywhere and drop 50 points on any given night, which immediately makes him an MVP contender. He is in with a shout, and 12/1 is a very generous price.

Jokic won the award last year and will be in contention again this time around, but back-to-back MVP trophies seems unlikely. If you disagree, however, you can back him at 14/1.

Read more on Planet Sport: NBA season preview: Milwaukee Bucks can win the championship again, if the Greek Freak stays fit

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