LeBron James, MVP favorite

In the first major poll conducted in the media, the Lakers player emerged as the favorite followed by Joel Embiid (Sixers).


The season of changing everything so that nothing changes continues to advance in its own way. Planned things are far from reality and others that seemed impossible are already a fact. The All Star is an example of the second: at the beginning of the course, only the naming of the stars was considered as recognition, but today the details for the celebration of the match are already being finalized. Dallas and Doncic are examples of the former. The franchise, after what was shown last season, was drawing a much more placid year; the player, after stroking the triple-double on average, was ranked as the favorite for the MVP. To this day, the Mavericks rank 11th in the West, out of the play-in and, of course, the playoff standings, and Luka Doncic is ninth in the race for top individual recognition.

The latest, revealed in the first survey conducted by ESPN on the matter, where 100 members of the US and international media have participated, recreating the real vote that takes place at the end of the campaign. In this way, as in the postseason, the different journalists have had to award points to five players: 10 for the one they consider worthy of the MVP, seven for the second with more merits, five for the third, three for the fourth and one for the fifth. Of all this, LeBron James has been the greatest graceful, obtaining 54 of the 100 possible votes for the first position and 760 points in the total. Behind him, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic, with 665 and 596 points, respectively. The difference between the Cameroonian pivot and The King, minimal: according to journalist Tim Bontemps, the same one who made the results public, the last race for the MVP so tight is in the 2004-05 season, when Steve Nash beat Shaquille O'Neal for 34 points. Last year, in this same poll, Antetokounmpo led LeBron with a 152-point margin. Meanwhile, far from the podium, Luka Doncic only accumulates 10 points, relative to two votes that place him in third place. "He should not be in the pools for the MVP this year," the Slovenian player has been sincere, in statements collected by ESPN itself.

If he finished the season with these same positions, LeBron, in a course in which he is averaging 25.5 points, 7.9 assists and 7.9 rebounds, would add his fifth MVP, equaling Michael Jordan in the showcase. At 36 years old, he surpasses his numbers from last season in all records and his coach, Frank Vogel, is clear: "He will probably be MVP this year," he declared after the game against Oklahoma (114-113), referring to James, after he reigned in the team's third consecutive overtime. From the results, I would also highlight the position of Giannis Antetokounmpo (winner of the last two editions), sixth in the poll, the absence of Anthony Davis and the presence of Kevin Durant (fourth) and Stephen Curry (seventh), both after a season in which injuries made it impossible to enter the list. The first, after breaking the Achilles tendon and 552 days of inactivity, is averaging 29.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists; all of them, numbers above the average of his career. The second, after only adding five games last season, on par: with 30 points and 5.5 rebounds, he is only below his total average in assists (5.9 compared to 6.6). Here are the full results of the ESPN poll:

- 1st LeBron James: 760 points

- 2nd Joel Embiid: 665 points

- 3rd Nikola Jokic: 596 points

- 4th Kevin Durant: 272 points

- 5th Kawhi Leonard: 153 points

- 6th Giannis Antetokounmpo: 66 points

- 7th Stephen Curry: 36 points

- 8th Paul George: 17 points

- 9th Luka Doncic: 10 points

- 10th Jayson Tatum: 8 points

- 11th Rudy Gobert: 6 points

- 12th Donovan Mitchell: 6 points

- 13th Damian Lillard: 3 points

- 14th Mike Conley: 1 point

- 15th Jaylen Brown: 1 point

As Bontemps himself points out, for the first time in the history of the survey, up to seven players receive votes as favorites for the prize (10 points). They are the top eight, with the exception, paradoxically, of Antetokounmpo. Likewise, also for the first time, three players from the same franchise receive at least one vote. A collective recognition to Utah Jazz, with the best record of the competition (25-5), which stays at that. On an individual level, Gobert, Micthell and Conley collectively only add 13 points.

Photos from as.com
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