Ja Morant lobbies for Devin Booker to get some MVP love

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It all started when Michael C. Wright released his MVP ladder — where the race stands now in his eyes — at NBA.com. His five-man ballot would be:

1. Joel Embiid
2. Nikola Jokic
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
4. Jayson Tatum
5. Luka Doncic

Ja Morant — who has a case to be in that top five — questioned why the Suns’ Devin Booker is not on the list.

This led to an exchange with a fan about the criteria media voters use to choose the MVP (all NBA postseason awards are voted on by a select group of about 100 media members).

Kyrie Irving also went in on pushing Booker for MVP.

Morant isn’t the only player doing some lobbying on behalf of teammates and friends — James Harden lobbied for Joel Embiid to win the award, speaking to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

“He deserves it, man,” Harden told ESPN. “I’ve only been here for a few weeks, but I already see his mindset. He wants to win. Some guys just want numbers, but he has both. He has the mentality of winning, and he scores the ball at a high level. I think he’s prepared himself, especially coming off last year, for this year to be one of his best years.”

Just a few notes from a media member who has had the honor of an awards vote for several years (and does again this year):

• For the record, the NBA.com MVP ladder had Booker seventh on the list — just behind Morant at sixth. Booker was not ignored.

• The NBA provides no criteria on what makes up an MVP (or how to choose/define All-NBA or any other award). There are probably 100 definitions of MVP among the 100 voters. The league office likes it that way: the more controversy and debate on the topic, the better. If fans are talking about it, even if they are upset, that’s seen as a good thing.

• Traditionally, the highest scoring player on the league’s best team is in the MVP conversation (and that would be Booker this season). That’s not true every season, however — Donovan Mitchell was the leading scorer on the NBA’s best regular season team last year and he didn’t even make All-NBA.

• This is maybe the most difficult year in a long time — at least since the Westbrook/Harden debate in 2017, maybe longer — to choose the MVP. There is no clear, runaway winner, this is an incredibly tight race. In my mind, there is a top tier with Jokic, Embiid, and Antetokounmpo (you can make a case for any order, it’s very close). After that comes a tier with more names than the two remaining slots on the ballot: Doncic, Morant, Tatum, Stephen Curry, and, yes, Booker. No matter how voters split that atom, there will be angry players and fan bases who have a legit case their player deserved better. They might have made that cut a lot of years, but this year it is a brutal choice.