In an offseason survey for ESPN, 8 NBA executives and scouts were asked who they thought will win MVP in the upcoming season. Dallas Maverick Luka Doncic was voted as the most likely to win MVP honors with four votes, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets was not far behind with two votes, and Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo both tied for third with one vote each.
"It's hard to see Giannis winning three in a row," a Western Conference scout said, "and I think there's more of an opportunity for Luka to kind of put on an MVP show and do more on an individual basis."
The NBA has not seen an MVP three-peat since Larry Bird did it in 1983-86, an achievement not even the likes of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson could manage, so it would make sense that Antetokounmpo would not either. Doncic led Dallas to their first playoff appearance since 2016, pushing their series with the second seed Los Angeles Clippers to 6 games.
Nikola Jokic led his team to even greater playoff success than Doncic, Antetokounmpo, or Lillard making the Western Conference Finals with his Nuggets team after coming back twice from a 3-1 deficit in the first two rounds. An Eastern Conference executive cited Jokic’s performance in the 2020 postseason bubble, also stating, “he should have gotten more respect each of the past two years”.
The only knock on Jokic may be from the extraordinary performance of his teammate, Jamal Murray, who put up two 50-point outings in the Nuggets' first-round matchup with the Utah Jazz. Regardless, Doncic still leads the MVP race in this survey, coming off a fantastic All-Star season averaging 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game.
Interestingly enough, the survey does not pick Doncic as the best player in the league however, something one would assume goes with winning the MVP award. The title of the best player in the league goes overwhelmingly to the 4-time MVP Lebron James who received 7 votes in his favor. The only other player to receive a vote in this category was Antetokounmpo with only a single vote.