ESPN’s straw poll has Giannis Antetokounmpo early leader for MVP over LeBron James, Luka Doncic, James Harden
Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo was given the NBA’s MVP award for his outstanding play in the 2018-19 season. Remarkably, The Greek Freak is the early favorite to win the award again, according to a recent media poll from ESPN — even over players like LeBron James, Luka Doncic and James Harden.
ESPN asked 101 media members to participate in an informal straw poll of where the league’s MVP race stands as the season moves into its second quarter. It was Antetokounmpo who stood above the rest. The Milwaukee Bucks forward received 48 first-place votes and was the only player to appear on all 101 ballots.
Despite fierce competition from the likes of LeBron James, Luka Doncic and James Harden, Antetokounmpo is in the early lead as the league approaches the quarter mark of the regular season.
Antetokounmpo has played exceptionally well through the first quarter of this season. In fact, the former No. 15 overall pick is at or near the top of several statistical categories. He’s currently second in points to Rockets guard James Harden, fourth in rebounds and first in efficiency.
In his 21 appearances with the Bucks this season, Antetokounmpo has racked up averages of 30.8 points on 56.5 percent shooting from the field (30.4 percent from beyond the arc), a career-high 13.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks in 31.9 minutes per outing.
Giannis will need to continue this level of play if he hopes to be named MVP for a second consecutive season, as his competition is off to a great start. James (29 first-place votes, 651 points, named on 100 ballots, according to ESPN), is on pace to be the league’s assist leader for the first time in his career, and he’s led the Lakers to an early 18-3 overall record.
Doncic (14 first-place votes, 569 points, 99 ballots) and Harden (nine first-place votes, 444 points, 97 ballots) will also have something to say about who should be named this season’s MVP, as they too are playing great basketball. Harden is leading the league in scoring by quite a wide margin, and Doncic is playing well alongside Kristaps Porzingis in Dallas.
Other players might step up as this season progresses, but Giannis is the early favorite.