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The Golden State Warriors are back, and Steph Curry has been leading the way. Ahead of Golden State's marquee matchup with the Phoenix Suns, TNT analyst and NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal said that Steph Curry is the clear cut favorite for league MVP.

When previewing this matchup, Shaq said of Curry that "Right now he is the clear favorite for the MVP. Crystal clear." When factoring in both Steph's individual stats, and the overall success of his team, it is hard to argue Shaq's assertion. Steph currently leads the league in scoring at 28.6 PPG, and is on pace to post the league's highest per game plus/minus at +15.0 per game.

There are distinct tiers of MVP candidates at this point in the season, with Steph Curry and Kevin Durant being alone at the top of that list. After those two, Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, and DeMar DeRozan were listed next on NBA.com's recent MVP ladder.

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LA Clippers star Paul George still remains on that list as an honorable mention; however, while his individual numbers remain solid, his team's success has declined as of late. George is currently one of five players in the NBA this season averaging at least 25 PPG, 7 RPG, and 5 APG. The others are Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Luka Doncic, all names that were featured on NBA.com's recent MVP ladder.

While several players are currently having MVP-caliber seasons, Shaquille O'Neal believes Steph Curry has separated himself from the pack.

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