Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was named NBA Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season last year becoming the 13th player to win back-to-back MVPs. Jokic received the accolade after 65 first-place votes and 875 points to beat Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid in second and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo in third. The early odds have Jokic in contention once again but he will be pushed hard to secure a three-peat in 2023 with the likes of Devin Booker, Steph Curry and Luka Doncic all lining up to claim the honour. But who are the preseason favourites and who will eventually end up claiming the coveted prize in 2023? Here’s a look at some of the names to look out for in 2022/23.
Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic is currently the early favourite to win the MVP next season according to these betting sites and with good reason. An argument can be made that Doncic is coming of the best four-year run to begin his career as any player in modern NBA history. This next season presents a clear path to the coveted award for the Slovenian sensation. His fifth placed finish in the MVP charts last year certainly shows he’s capable of being the recipient of the illustrious MVP award, and he’s set to lead the Dallas Mavericks once again this season. Still only 22-years-old, he’s averaging 26.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists in an impressive run in the NBA to date. There are parts of his game that can improve though; his overall three-point shooting can be better, his defence can improve too and he needs to improve his temperament with the officials too. Doncic is still young, but he’s the best player on a championship contending team and is a prime candidate for the 2023 NBA MVP.
Steph Curry – Golden State Warriors
At the conclusion of the 2022 season it was the Warriors who once again sat atop the NBA throne after another sensational run in the NBA Finals. Curry was a vital cog in the Golden State machine and his Finals MVP performance not only helped his side claim another championship but also cemented him as one of the best ever point guards in the history of Basketball. Curry’s greatness was simply too much to overcome for Boston as his constant movement leaves even the best defences on edge and it once again proved to be the case in the Finals. He is a first ballot Hall of Famer and if he can carry the form he showed in the post-season last campaign, producing some of his best ever performances, then he will unquestionably be in the conversation for NBA MVP in 2023.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
The Greek Freak dominated the NBA Finals in 2021 to take the Bucks to their first title in 50 years and in the process joined an illustrious club of players alongside Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as just one of three players to have earned MVP, DPOY and Finals MVP in their career. His stats speak for themselves and as long as he is healthy and his Bucks find themselves in the hunt for a championship, he’ll be in contention for the NBA MVP. That’s been the case over each of the past four seasons with Giannis continually proving himself as a generational talent. He’s still only 27-years-old and has another half-decade in his prime at least before he starts to wind down. The future is bright for this powerhouse and he will be in the conversation for MVP once again next year.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
There were few players as dominant as Embiid in the regular season as teams struggled to deal with his physical presence standing at 7 foot 2. He really came into his own at the turn of the year averaging 40 plus points in four consecutive games in January. Barring a blockbuster trade this summer, Philadelphia will continue to rely on Embiid big time in 2022-23. That’s especially true with a regressed James Harden set to return. It didn’t do much in the playoffs with Embiid averaging less than 24 points per game but that doesn’t take away from what he did during an absolutely brilliant regular-season performance. If he can improve his consistency and replicate some of the form from the regular season throughout the year then he’ll be in the conversation.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron could be number one on the NBA’s all-time scoring list when his career is over and that will come as little surprise to anyone. His legendary career to date has put him in third place behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone but statistically speaking, LeBron is the best all-around player in NBA history since he’s the only player in the top-100 of all the major categories. James missed 26 games to injury this past season and while he can no longer be asked to play 75-plus games while acting as the only threat for a contending team, the four-time champion continues to dominate when he’s on the court. He is averaging 27 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.2 assists in four seasons with the Lakers. If general manager Rob Pelinka is able to build a contender after a 49-loss season, this four-time NBA MVP will once again be in the conversation in 2022-23.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
This two-time reigning NBA MVP has been on a completely different level during the last two years, averaging 26.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists per in that span. He is arguably one of the greatest passing big men in NBA history and his all-round skillset is unrivalled by anyone in this current crop of players. The Nuggets were eliminated in the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs by the eventual champion Golden State Warriors but with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to return in 2022-23, expect an emphatic response. Look for Jokic to continue being a top-end candidate and potentially earn a three-peat as MVP.