As Devin Booker’s MVP odds rise, he makes less gains in ESPN straw poll
The NBA oddsmakers appear to be reacting more favorably with regards to Devin Booker’s MVP case than league media members.
With two weeks left in the regular season and with votes due then, ESPN’s final straw poll of 100-plus media members ranks the Phoenix Suns shooting guard seventh in the MVP race.
Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo were near-unanimous picks for the first three slots in the rankings of the top-five candidates. They appeared in voters’s top-three in 291 of 300 votes.
Booker and Memphis’ Ja Morant were the only two players to appear second in a poll (each earned one vote there).
After the near-unanimous top-three of Jokic, Embiid and Antetokounmpo, the straw poll ranked Morant, Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Dallas’ Luka Doncic ahead of Booker, whose Suns have sealed the league-best record on the year and sit at 61-14 with seven games remaining.
Suns point guard Chris Paul, who missed a month of play due to a broken thumb, has slid to 10th in the ranking, behind Booker, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, in that order.
Paul’s absence has not helped Booker move up the rankings as much as expected.
Over 13 games since the All-Star break — all of the last two without Paul on the team — Booker has averaged 30.3 points, 6.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game on 54% shooting and 41% three-point accuracy. Phoenix has gone 10-4 over that span.
That and the narrative push by the Suns to put Booker’s name in the MVP conversation has helped his odds more than the media perspective, it appears.
FanDuel’s sportsbook has Booker behind the three frontrunners, tied with Doncic and Morant at +8000. He is notably ahead of Tatum, whose post-All-Star run of 32.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game on 51% shooting has helped Boston to a 13-3 record.
The Celtics’ strong gelling in the second half of the season under first-year coach Ime Udoka has helped Tatum’s case, though Boston is still fourth in the Eastern Conference at 47-29.
While the straw poll may be revealing the thoughts of the people who will vote on the final MVP, the sportsbook odds still slightly favor Embiid (-140) over Jokic (+105).
Antetokounmpo is at +1000 before the Booker-Doncic-Morant trio at +8000 and then Tatum and Durant at +13000.
ESPN NBA MVP Straw Poll Final Results