Milwaukee Bucks fans have had little doubt all season long, but a recent ESPN poll suggests Giannis Antetokounmpo will be a runaway MVP winner.
It seems like a long time ago now, but just before the NBA season was suspended two weeks ago, a national narrative had emerged to leave Milwaukee Bucks fans everywhere rolling their eyes.
After wins against the Bucks and Clippers in the space of a few days, attention seemed to turn to LeBron James in terms of the MVP spotlight, in spite of the fact that Giannis Antetokounmpo had already built up an almost unimpeachable season-long case at that point.
As the discussion appeared to dominate the airwaves across TV and radio with the likes of ESPN and Fox Sports, it wasn’t always clear who was playing contrarian, who actually believed James would overtake Antetokounmpo, and who was simply leaning into the discussion for the purpose of creating content.
On Monday, some clarity finally emerged on that front, as ESPN’s Tim Bontemps released the results of a straw poll of 70 journalists that sought out their current MVP ballot of choice.
The sample was constructed to be representative of the NBA’s official voting procedure, while the voting process was also designed to replicate it, as Bontemps explained:
“To make the balloting process realistic, ESPN sought to mimic the league’s official voting process as closely as possible. Our MVP voting panel includes a mixture of local beat writers from across the league, as well as national and international reporters, just as the NBA’s does at the conclusion of the regular season. And, to conform to the NBA’s voting system, every first-place vote is worth 10 points, followed by seven for second place, five for third, three for fourth and one for fifth.”
The results were emphatic and left little ambiguity in terms of the state of the race. In fact, it’s safe to say that it looks like it isn’t much of a race at all.
Giannis topped the polls receiving first place votes from 60 of the 70 media members, with the other 10 slotting him into the second spot.
In comparison, although LeBron received the 10 remaining first place votes, and 58 second place votes, he also slipped to third and fourth behind James Harden on a pair of ballots.
Maybe that gap could shrink if the season does manage to resume and James rolls off a phenomenal finish to the year, but at present it seems more realistic to imagine Giannis finishing closer to winning unanimously than slipping to second place.
Of course, if Antetokounmpo is crowned MVP, it will be his second consecutive year winning the award. That would make him just the Bucks’ second back-to-back MVP, and the 12th player in NBA history to achieve that feat.