Can a Big Early-Season Scoring Night Put an NBA Star on MVP Path?

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

Phoenix's Devin Booker came within a made basket of eclipsing the 60-point plateau for the second time in his eight-year NBA career over the weekend.

The three-time All Star managed to finish Saturday’s 118-114 come-from-behind win over the New Orleans Pelicans with 58 points on 21-of-35 shooting, marking the fifth time he’s notched more than 50 points in a game.

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It also nearly marked the 24th time a player has scored at least 60 points before New Year’s Day. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise for Booker and anyone in Arizona sports betting backing him in NBA MVP betting that he missed the mark, as none of those scorers wound up winning the award at year’s end.

Oddsmakers at BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona give the former Kentucky Wildcat +2200 odds of taking home the MVP trophy.

Booker ranks in a tie with Pelicans forward Zion Williamson for seventh on the NBA betting MVP odds board, though that could change quickly if the Suns continue their winning ways. took a look at how 60-point scorers in pre-New Year’s Day games wound up faring at season’s end, MVP-wise.

NBA’s Pre New Year 60-Point Scorers

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 Could Join Elite Company in Coming Weeks

If Booker is able to eclipse the 60-point mark in any of the Suns’ final six games of 2022, he’d join the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and Elgin Baylor as a member of the pre-New Year’s 60-point club.

Phoenix wraps up the calendar year with games against Memphis at home and travels to face off against Denver, Memphis, Washington and Toronto

Booker scored 50 points against the Wizards in Phoenix on March 27, 2019, but has yet to crack such a milestone against any of the other franchises in his career.

His highest point total against Denver came in March, when he scored 49 points in the Mile High City, while Booker has scored 48 against Memphis (in 2019).  

The game against Denver will receive ample attention from Arizona sports betting apps, part of the NBA’s Christmas Day schedule. 

Booker’s highest scoring game of his career came on March 24, 2017, when he torched the Boston Celtics on the road for 70 points in a 130-120 loss.

Early Breakout Games Don’t Equate to MVP Votes

Although early-season high-scoring games receive a lot of attention, they don’t tend to stick in the minds of MVP voters.

Chamberlain scored 60 or more points seven times before New Year’s Day in the 1962-63 season and finished seventh in MVP voting. Despite averaging 44.8 points and 24.3 rebounds, Chamberlain didn’t receive a first-place vote, while Boston’s Bill Russell took home the MVP trophy.

There have only been six 60-plus point scorers before New Year’s Day since 2000. The most recent player to perform the feat, James Harden, scored 60 points for Houston against Atlanta on Nov. 30, 2019. He went on to finish third in MVP voting that season. The award went to Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.



Christopher Boan is the lead writer at after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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