Jayson Tatum leads ESPN’s first 2022-23 NBA MVP straw poll originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum has been hearing “MVP!” chants from fans throughout the 2022-23 NBA season, and they aren’t the only people who believe he should be the favorite for the league’s MVP award.
Tim Bontemps recently conducted ESPN’s first MVP straw poll of the season. A total of 100 ballots were cast, and Tatum led the way with 759 total points, ahead of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo in second place with 687 points. Tatum’s 47 first-place votes were the most of any player. Antetokounmpo got 36 first-place votes. Dallas Mavericks guard Luke Doncic was a distant third with 392 points and 10 first-place votes.
Tatum set this Celtics record in exciting overtime win vs. Lakers
Tatum is averaging a career-high 30.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and one block per game, along with 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He’s on pace to become the first Celtics player ever to score 30-plus points per game for a full season.
One of his best performances of the season came in Boston’s 122-118 overtime victory against the rival Los Angeles Lakers on the road Monday night. Tatum hit a clutch shot over LeBron James late in regulation to force OT. He finished the game with 44 points on 15-of-29 shooting, along with nine rebounds and six assists.
Tatum’s excellent stats, plus the fact that Boston owns the league’s best record at 22-7, puts him in a strong position to become the first MVP winner from the Celtics since Larry Bird won the award three consecutive years from 1983-84 through 1985-86.
But a lot can change between now and April when the regular season wraps up. Tatum still has a long way to go.