ESPN's media straw poll settles MVP debate between Thunder, Mavs, and Nuggets fans

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Anthony Edwards
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Anthony Edwards / David Berding/GettyImages

This year's MVP race is shaping up to be one of the more unpredictable ones in recent memory. This after frontrunner and reigning Joel Embiid went down with an injury. There are several candidates for the league's highest award, but the crowded standings have prevented one team, the Boston Celtics aside, from breaking away.

Thus far, four candidates have emerged: Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Each player would make for a worthy MVP but only one can win, and a recent straw poll produced surprising results.

A familiar face is the clear frontrunner for MVP.

Although the Thunder are one game back from the best record in the Western Conference, Gilgeous-Alexander comes in a distant second in ESPN's straw poll to the two-time league MVP and Finals MVP Jokic, who is expected to run away with the award.

He is the safe choice over first-time candidates like SGA, Doncic, and Edwards, who's the best player on the team with the best record in the West. Having a fresh face win MVP might be better for the NBA and solidify an up-and-coming star as a truly elite player.

Nevertheless, Jokic's averaging an outstanding 26.4 points on a stellar 57.9% field goal percentage, in addition to 12.3 rebounds and 9 assists per game. Those numbers are almost carbon copies of his two MVP seasons and the Nuggets are currently tied for first in the West, giving voters an easy option to vote for.

Overall, Gilgeous-Alexander, Doncic, and Edwards each have strong cases for winning MVP, but NBA GMs appear to favor experience. Jokic's winning two of the last three league MVPs and putting up eerily similar numbers to those seasons. That has made him the clear frontrunner with two weeks remaining in the regular season.