The NBA MVP straw poll is one of the most infamous and popular polls in sports, with many people predicting which player will be awarded the trophy at season’s end. But this year, there are a lot more surprises than usual – how did LeBron James get so far ahead?
The “nba mvp candidates 2021” is a straw poll that will be held in the NBA. The person with the most votes, will win the MVP award for the 2020-2021 season.
8 a.m. ET
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
After a year-long struggle for the title of NBA Most Valuable Player between Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, it looks like the two All-Star big men will be battling it out again this season.
In the second edition of ESPN’s NBA MVP Straw Poll for the 2021-22 season, Embiid leads the Denver Nuggets’ reigning MVP by 35 points after finishing second behind Jokic last year. In the nine incarnations of this poll over the last six seasons, Embiid’s razor-thin lead is the closest the top two slots have ever been.
The Philadelphia 76ers center received 45 first-place votes and 789 total points, making him the only player to appear on all 100 ballots. Meanwhile, Jokic received 43 first-place votes and 754 points despite being totally absent from five ballots.
The two superstar centers would have been tied if Jokic had finished second on each of those five votes.
With fewer than two months left in the regular season, ESPN polled 100 media members in an informal poll that mimicked postseason award voting to see where the race stands. There were at least two voters from each of the league’s 28 markets, as well as a cross-section of national and foreign media, to make the voting as realistic as feasible. Between Sunday and Tuesday, voters were polled.
Voters were asked to submit a five-player ballot, similar to the NBA’s official vote at the end of the season, and the results were tabulated using the league’s scoring system: 10 points for first place, seven points for second, five points for third, three points for fourth, and one point for fifth.
Embiid and Jokic were followed by Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (512 points, nine first-place votes), Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (one first-place vote, 211 points), and Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (two first-place votes, 157 points) in third, fourth, and fifth place, respectively.
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (sixth), Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (seventh), Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (eighth), Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic (ninth), and Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker and Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler tied for tenth with a single fifth-place vote each.
The biggest noticeable change between the previous straw poll in December and this one is Embiid’s and Curry’s fortunes having reversed. Embiid earned a solitary fifth-place vote in the first round of voting after missing a number of games due to COVID-19 and Philadelphia’s subsequent slide down the rankings as a consequence.
Curry, on the other hand, established a record for the most first-place votes and the greatest point total in any iteration of the poll so far, with 94 first-place votes and 978 points out of 1,000.
So, what went wrong?
Since then, Embiid has only missed two games and has become one of the league’s most dominating players. With 29.3 points per game, he’s second in the league behind Antetokounmpo, putting him on pace to become the first center to lead the NBA in scoring since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000, the year the Hall of Famer earned his sole MVP title.
Despite the turbulence caused by the ongoing drama surrounding Ben Simmons, which ended with the blockbuster trade that brought James Harden to the 76ers just before last week’s trade deadline, Embiid has kept Philadelphia firmly in the mix for home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Friday, February 25: Heat vs. Knicks (7:45 p.m.); Clippers vs. Lakers (10:05 p.m.).
All timings are in Eastern Standard Time.
Denver, on the other hand, is expected to have the league’s easiest March schedule, enabling the Nuggets to pile up victories and perhaps climb the Western Conference rankings.
Antetokounmpo is enjoying another phenomenal season in line with his MVP-winning efforts in 2019 and 2020, scoring a league-leading 29.4 points per game to go along with 11.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists.
For the second year in a row, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers did not garner a single vote in the poll. James had been on each of the nine versions of the poll before to being totally left off the ballot in the first round of voting in December, something only Antetokounmpo can now boast.
Morant, who rose to sixth position after earning no votes in December, is someone who is likely to be on the ballot for years to come. Morant, who will play in the NBA’s traditional midseason showcase on Sunday for the first time, is the face of the league’s most exciting young squad, which has racked up a 32-9 record after starting the season 9-10.
Durant drops from second to eighth place from the original iteration of the poll, as the MCL injury that has kept him out of play for the last month has likely terminated his campaign.
Results of the ESPN NBA MVP Straw Poll 2.0
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