NBA MVP Watch: Down To Three
There are only around three weeks left in the NBA regular season until the Play-In Tournament begins on April 11.
One of the biggest debates over the coming weeks will be who walks away with the 2023 NBA MVP award, amid constant arguments over which player is most deserving throughout the entire season so far.
As it’s narrowed down to three players, below is an updated look at the MVP race.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
The runner-up in MVP voting the last two seasons, it’s looking like this may be Embiid’s year to finally take home some hardware.
While Nikola Jokic was seemingly atop the race for most of the season, this past month has seen the race switch up a bit.
Embiid’s 76ers are on fire; they’re 9-1 over their last 10 games, and have asserted themselves into the “title contenders” conversation.
Embiid has been at the epicenter of the success. Offensively, he’s on pace for his second straight scoring title with his 33.2 points per game. He recently notched 30+ points in 10 straight contests.
The big man has one of the deepest offensive bags in basketball history. However, his two-way dominance has been perhaps his strongest argument for MVP.
Defensively, Embiid deters an entire offense from even challenging the rim. When they do, he smothers every shot; he’s now averaging 1.7 blocks per game, his most since 2018-19.
Embiid’s incredible two-way dominance has asserted him as the leader for the MVP race. From here on out, it’s his award to lose.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
While Embiid finished second in consecutive years in MVP voting, Jokic had been on pace for his third straight MVP award.
The Nuggets center is 0.1 assist per game from averaging a triple double on absurd efficiency; he has a strong argument as the best offensive hub in the NBA, scoring with efficiency while orchestrating an entire offense with his playmaking.
Jokic may have voter fatigue going against him after winning MVP two years in a row. On the other hand, there are a few reasons he’s slipped in the race lately.
The Nuggets are still the Western Conference’s first seed, but they’re 3-5 in their last eight games, including losses to the Spurs, Bulls and Nets.
On top of that, Jokic doesn’t have the defensive impact that the other candidates have. His strength makes him a decent defender, but he isn’t a great rim protector, a quality that can be important as a center.
Jokic is still capable of catching Embiid. If he continues his offensive output while leading Denver to some big wins, while Embiid and the 76ers falter, Jokic could three-peat as MVP.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Antetokounmpo is still in the race, but he’d probably need some luck to snag a third-career MVP award.
The Bucks star has some big arguments in his favor. Milwaukee has the best record in the league, and he’s averaging 31.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists while being one of the best defenders in the league.
Like Jokic, he might have the voter fatigue argument going against him. He is consistently great every season, and has made a strong argument for being the best player in the league.
That isn’t to say Antetokounmpo doesn’t have his flaws. His shooting is still an issue, as his 64.7% free throw percentage is the second lowest of his career.
Objectively, Antetokounmpo has a very clear MVP case. But the debate between Embiid and Jokic can sometimes overshadow that case, despite putting up fantastic numbers.
Antetokounmpo would likely need both Embiid and Jokic to absolutely fall apart to assert himself atop the MVP race. Either way, he’s having a dominant season, leading the Bucks to the Eastern Conference’s top seed.
Daniel Mader is a junior majoring in digital/print journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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