Media Poll Reveals Antetokounmpo Overwhelming Favorite For MVP
With the NBA season on pause, about the only thing left to do is debate about who might be league MVP.
Right now, it appears that answer is fairly easy.
According to a media straw poll conducted by ESPN, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is the overwhelming favorite.
ESPN's poll consisted of 70 media members. Antetokounmpo received all but 10 of the first-place votes.
"To make the balloting process realistic, ESPN sought to mimic the league's official voting process as closely as possible," NBA reporter Tim Bontemps wrote. "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.
He added that "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."
Using that formula, Antetokounmpo totaled 670 of a possible 700 votes -- making him the runaway favorite.
This may be news to some, as Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was viewed by many as a serious contender to keep the reigning league MVP from repeating. But based on this particular poll, James has a long way to go.
James did receive the other 10 first-place votes for a total of 514 points. Houston Rockets guard James Harden (220), Dallas Mavericks guard/forward Luka Doncic (171) and Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (118) rounded out the top five.
The NBA is on hiatus, of course, because of the coronavirus outbreak. It is not known if the season will continue or if an MVP will even be selected. Teams have played in the range of 65 games, with the season being suspended around a month early.
So perhaps there is time for the likes of James, Harden and the others to catch Antetokounmpo should the season resume.
But right now, clearly, there is just one true winner.
Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists and the Bucks (53-12) own the league's best record. As Botenmps noted, "his player efficiency rating of 31.71 ranks among the best in the history of the sport."
James is averaging 25.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and a league-leading 10.6 assists. The Lakers (49-14) have the best record in the Western Conference and recently defeated the Bucks in LA.
Sam Amico covers the NBA and Cleveland Cavaliers for SI.com. Follow him @AmicoHoops.