If the season ended today, Pascal Siakam would likely be on the MVP ballot.
With almost a quarter of the season is in the books, ESPN's Tim Bontemps asked 101 media members - consisting of at least two people from each market, plus national and international reporters - who they would vote for MVP right now. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way comfortably with 803 points, followed by Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James with 651 points, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic with 569 points and Houston Rockets guard James Harden with 444 points.
Siakam received 52 points, putting him ahead of LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (49), Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (38), Minnesota Timberwolves centre Karl-Anthony Towns (9) and Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (6) for fifth place.
Players received five points for first-place votes, four points for second-place votes, three points for third-place votes, two points for fourth-place votes and one point for fifth-place votes. Siakam received mostly fifth-place votes, although he did receive one third-place vote and five fourth-place votes.
Through 20 games this season, Siakam is averaging 25.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, all of which are career-highs. He's shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from 3-point range, the latter of which is also a career-high.
Those numbers are similar to what Leonard posted with the Raptors last season: 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game on 49.6 percent shooting from the field and 37.1 percent from the perimeter.
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With Siakam leading the way, the Toronto Raptors have won 15 of their 20 games, tying them with the Miami Heat for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. Siakam has been at the forefront of their success, as the Raptors have been 16.0 points per 100 possessions better offensively with him on the court. That's by far and away the biggest differential on the team.
Interestingly, Siakam currently ranks lower on Basketball Reference's MVP tracker, a model that uses previous voting results to project which players are most likely to win the award. He ranks 10th on the site's list behind all of the aforementioned players, plus Philadelphia 76ers centre Joel Embiid.
Siakam could strengthen his MVP case this week with matchups against both Harden's Rockets and Embiid's 76ers.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.