Most Valuable Player: Steph Curry

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The most efficient volume scoring season in NBA history.

The most improvement from a reigning MVP that we've ever witnessed.

The most popular player in the game today largely because of all the crazy stuff he's been doing to feed into the first two statements.

All of the above, of course, could only apply to Wardell Stephen Curry, who has a real shot to pull off what Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James narrowly missed by one vote in 2000 and 2013, respectively, and become the first unanimous MVP in the NBA's history.

There has been some tiny slippage over the past month, if you can call it that, from the mind-blowing standards Curry has set in 2015-16. The scoring dynamo who has heartily soaked up the privilege of sitting out 18 full fourth quarters this season, thanks to all those blowouts that the Warriors racked up into March, has been forced to play in a season-high 13 consecutive fourth quarters for Golden State. It turns out that blowouts are increasingly hard to register when you get everyone's best game for 82 games in a row.

As a result, Curry entered Sunday's big showdown with the Spurs in San Antonio having dipped a touch below his season-long 30 points per game norm, at 29.8 PPG, with a player efficiency rating of 31.18 after keeping it in the 32 range for the longest time. Wilt Chamberlain, you'll recall, holds the single-season record for PER at 31.8 in 1962-63.

However ...

You're grading on the world's hardest curve if you really feel the need to dock Steph points for any of that that. No player, big or small, has ever averaged 30 PPG in fewer than 35 minutes per game and Curry is right there. He also happens to sport the best effective field goal percentage, at .626, of the nearly 350 cases in league history in which a player has averaged 25 PPG for the season. As covered in our MIP entry, Steph is a fully fledged 50/40/90 guy now, who also merely needs 12 3s in Golden State's final two games to reach a ridiculous 400 for the season. (Last season's 286 treys accounted for the previous all-time best.)

Best of all: After Curry is officially named MVP for a second successive season at the start of the second round of the playoffs in May, he'll have given himself a shot to do something only Bill Russell, Michael Jordan and LeBron have achieved: winning both the regular-season MVP trophy and the NBA championship in consecutive seasons.

‎The battle for the Nos. 2 through 5 spots on the MVP ballot realistically belongs in an octagon. San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant and the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul -- as well as James, naturally -- all have a strong case to be on there. But Steph has made the top-line MVP stuff ‎as simple as it possibly could be. Borrowing the line yet again from the TNT guys: Steph-ort-less.

Stein's ballot: 1. Curry; 2. Leonard: 3. Westbrook; 4. Durant; 5. James October prediction: Anthony Davis