In the minds of the voting press, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the runaway favorite to win the 2019-20 Most Valuable Player award.
The reigning MVP earned 60 out of a possible 70 first-place votes for a commanding lead over LeBron James, who had built a seemingly convincing late-season argument that he was equally worthy.
No one else earned a first-place vote, and with the season currently on hold due to the coronavirus global pandemic, there’s no telling if anyone will get to raise the Maurice Podoloff trophy.
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.
Using that rubric, Antetokounmpo led the way with 670 of a possible 700 points, as he was listed in second place behind James on the 10 ballots where he wasn’t listed first. James, meanwhile, was second with 514 points, and was either first or second on 68 of the 70 submitted ballots, finishing third on one and fourth on another.
Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists, while his player efficiency rating of 31.71 ranks among the best in the history of the sport. He has a real plus-minus of 7.96, more than a full point higher than James, who sits in second place.
James, meanwhile, is averaging 25.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 10.6 assists — leading the league in that category for what would be the first time in his career. He also has helped the Lakers clinch their first postseason berth since 2012-13, and the team’s .778 win percentage would be the franchise’s best since 2008-09, when Kobe Bryant won the fourth of his five NBA championships.