Could a standout performance in the early season propel an NBA star towards the MVP title?

Can a Big Early-Season Scoring Night Put an NBA Star on MVP Path?
Fact Checked by Young Ruth

Over the weekend, Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns came within one basket of scoring 60 points for the second time in his eight-year NBA career.

In Saturday’s exciting 118-114 comeback win against the New Orleans Pelicans, the three-time All Star put up an impressive 58 points on 21-of-35 shooting. This marked his fifth game with over 50 points scored.

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There were only a few instances where a player scored 60 points before New Year’s Day, and this was close to being the 24th occurrence. This was seen as a stroke of luck for Booker and his supporters in Arizona sports betting who had bet on him for NBA MVP, as none of the previous players who achieved this milestone went on to win the award at the end of the year.

BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona is giving odds of +2200 for the ex-Kentucky Wildcat to secure the MVP trophy.

Booker and Pelicans forward Zion Williamson are currently tied for seventh place on the NBA MVP odds board. If the Suns continue their winning streak, Booker’s ranking could see a rapid increase.

Yengols.com analyzed the performance of players who scored 60 points in games prior to New Year’s Day to determine their likelihood of winning the MVP award at the end of the season.

Scorers in the NBA who scored 60 points before the New Year.

Player Team Points Date Opponent MVP Finish
Wilt ChamberlainPhil. Warriors78Dec. 8, 1961L.A. Lakers2nd
Wilt ChamberlainSF Warriors73Nov. 16, 1962N.Y. Knicks7th
Wilt ChamberlainSF Warriors72Nov. 3, 1962L.A. Lakers7th
Elgin BaylorL.A. Lakers71Nov. 15, 1960N.Y. Knicks3rd
Wilt ChamberlainPhil. 76ers68Dec. 16, 1962Chicago Bulls7th
Elgin BaylorMinn. Lakers64Nov. 8, 1959Boston Celtics5th
Elgin BaylorL.A. Lakers63Dec. 8, 1961Phil. Warriors4th
Wilt ChamberlainSF Warriors63Dec. 14, 1962L.A. Lakers7th
Wilt ChamberlainSF Warriors63Nov. 26, 1964Phil. 76ers5th
Wilt ChamberlainSF Warriors62Nov. 15, 1964Cinc. Royals5th
Kobe BryantL.A. Lakers62Dec. 20, 2005Dallas Mavs4th
Wilt ChamberlainPhil. Warriors61Dec. 9, 1961Chi. Packers2nd
Wilt ChamberlainSF Warriors61Nov. 21, 1962Cinc. Royals7th
Wilt ChamberlainSF Warriors61Dec. 11, 1962Syr. Nationals7th
Wilt ChamberlainSF Warriors61Dec. 18, 1962STL Hawks7th
Wilt ChamberlainPhil. Warriors60Dec. 1, 1961L.A. Lakers2nd
Wilt ChamberlainPhil. Warriors60Dec. 29, 1961L.A. Lakers2nd
Bernard KingN.Y. Knicks60Dec. 25, 1984N.J. Nets7th
Gilbert ArenasWash. Wizards60Dec. 17, 2006N.J. Nets8th
Klay ThompsonG.S. Warriors60Dec. 5, 2016Ind. PacersNo Votes
Kemba WalkerChar. Hornets60Nov. 17, 2018Phil. 76ersNo Votes
Damian LillardPor. Trail Blazers60Nov. 8, 2019Brk. Nets8th
James HardenHou. Rockets60Nov. 30, 2019Atl. Hawks3rd


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Booker may soon join an exclusive group of elite players.

Booker will join Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, and Elgin Baylor in the pre-New Year’s 60-point club if he scores more than 60 points in any of the Suns’ final six games of 2022.

Phoenix will finish the year with home games against Memphis, then hit the road to play against Denver, Memphis, Washington, and Toronto.

Booker scored 50 points in a game against the Wizards in Phoenix on March 27, 2019, but he has not achieved this feat against any other team in his career.

In March, he achieved his highest point total of 49 against Denver in the Mile High City, while Booker scored 48 against Memphis in 2019.

Arizona sports betting apps will be focusing on the matchup with Denver on Christmas Day, which is a key part of the NBA’s holiday schedule.

On March 24, 2017, Booker achieved a career-best by scoring 70 points in a close 130-120 road game loss against the Boston Celtics.

Having breakout games early in the season does not guarantee receiving MVP votes.

Although early-season high-scoring games may attract attention, they usually do not have a significant impact on MVP voting.

In the 1962-63 season, Chamberlain scored 60+ points in seven games before New Year’s Day. Despite averaging 44.8 points and 24.3 rebounds, he only finished seventh in the MVP voting. Surprisingly, Chamberlain did not receive any first-place votes and ultimately lost to Boston’s Bill Russell for the MVP award.

Only six players have scored 60 or more points before New Year’s Day since 2000. James Harden was the most recent player to accomplish this feat, scoring 60 points for Houston against Atlanta on November 30, 2019. Despite his impressive performance, Harden finished third in MVP voting that season, with the award going to Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee.

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Author

Peterson Christopher

Peterson Christopher has a wealth of experience covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, having worked for ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly, and the Green Valley News. Currently, he serves as the lead writer at yengols.com.

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