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Checking in on the Warriors award races

How do the Dubs look in the race for MVP, DPOY, and ROY?

NBA MVP Press Conference Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors have only played 25 games, which means they still have 47 remaining. A lot can change between now and then.

But it’s never too early to start looking at the award races, and see where the Dubs stand. So let’s do exactly that.

Most Valuable Player

Warriors nominee: Steph Curry
His competition: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, LeBron James, Nikola Jokić, Kawhi Leonard
His current standing: Near, but not at the top

Curry is firmly in the MVP discussion, but a little polarizing. That was evidenced by ESPN’s latest MVP poll; Curry only placed seventh (which I feel is a bit low), with just 13 of the 100 voters placing him in their five-player ballot. But he received a first place vote, as well as a vote for second and third place.

Statistically, Curry has a compelling case. He’s second in the league in scoring, with 29.6 points per game, and has already made 27 more threes than any other player, while shooting 42.9% from beyond the arc. His defense has been solid, his gravity has been exceptional, and he is, once again, one of the most efficient players in the league. His 65.6% true-shooting percentage ranks 13th of all players, and only one guard — his brother, Seth — is ahead of him.

So what stands in Curry’s way? One thing, and one thing only: the Warriors record. As of Wednesday, the Warriors were 13-12, and eighth in the West. Unless you’re averaging a triple-double, voters aren’t likely to give you an MVP trophy if your team isn’t one of the best in the league. If the Warriors continue to be a roughly .500 team, then Curry can bank on some down ballot MVP votes, but no real traction for winning the award.

But if the Dubs can start clicking, and rise towards, say, the third or fourth seed in the competitive West? Curry could just find himself heading home with a third MVP to match his trio of rings.

Defensive Player of the Year

Warriors nominee: Draymond Green
His competition: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert, Kawhi Leonard
His current standing: Near, but not at the top

Steve Kerr has repeated a refrain multiple times this year: Draymond Green is the best defensive player in the league.

I agree with that sentiment.

Through the first five games of the season — four Green absences and one minutes-restricted game — the Warriors defensive rating (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass) was 116.1, 26th in the league during that span.

Since then it’s been 109.2, fourth in the league during that span.

So what’s holding Green back? The same thing holding Curry back, really. A winning record isn’t as meaningful for DPOY as for MVP, but it’s not that far back. Gobert’s Jazz are 20-5. Davis’ Lakers are 19-6, with the best defensive rating in the league. Embiid’s Sixers are 18-7.

The Warriors will have to overachieve as a team for their individual achievements to be recognized. But if they’re able to do that, there’s no reason why Green can’t grab some more hardware.

Rookie of the Year

Warriors nominee: James Wiseman
His competition: LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton
His current standing: Comfortably in the second tier

The season is still young, and there’s plenty of time for Wiseman to get back into the discussion. For now though, he trails Ball and Haliburton rather comfortably.

Ball has been a highlight machine with fancy stats to boot: 14.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game, while shooting 36.3% from beyond the arc. Haliburton has been the most valuable rookie in the league, averaging 12.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game, while shooting 45.5% from distance and playing tremendously smart basketball.

Wiseman lags behind them, especially since he’s playing fewer minutes, and has missed five games due to injury. But he’s close enough to still be in the race; it is, after all, a very long season, and who knows what the second overall pick will look like in a few months.

Those are the big races, but there are other ones worth keeping an eye on. Barring injury, Curry is a lock for All-NBA, and Green looks bound for an All-Defense team. Andrew Wiggins might be in the All-Defense discussion as well, and Wiseman is clearly headed for an All-Rookie team.

But an MVP, or a DPOY, or a ROY sure would be nice, too.

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