MIAMI — As expected, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo have been named finalists for the NBA MVP award. Here’s what you need to know:
- The league announced the finalists for all regular season awards (voted by members of the media) on Friday, prior to the Eastern Conference play-off final between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. The winners will be revealed over the coming weeks.
- Jokić has won the MVP Award the past two years and will join Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird as the only players in league history to win the NBA’s prestigious award in three consecutive seasons.
- Antetokounmpo was MVP in 2018-19, and again in 2019-20. Embiid hasn’t won yet.
Finalists in the rest of the prize races
Who has the edge in the MVP race?
When the names were read from his card, TNT’s Charles Barkley said this would be the “closest vote ever”. I wonder if he realized he was part of the actual closer — the MVP race in 1990 — and lost to Magic Johnson, despite having more first-place votes than Magic.
This could really come down to which of these three stars does well on the second ballot. Embiid led the NBA in scoring with 33.1 points per game. Jokić was a paragon of dominance for the best team in the West (and the Nuggets would have been significantly worse without him on the court). Giannis averaged 31.1 points and nearly 12 rebounds for the team’s best overall. – Vardon
Who can claim the highest honors in coaching?
It probably won’t be soon. The Browns, in his first season with the Kings, broke the franchise’s 16-season drought. Sacramento has moved from 12th in the West last year (30-52) to 3rd this season (48-34), edging out NBA kings like the Warriors, Lakers and even the Suns (who now have Kevin Durant).
Thunder under Daigneault did more to make sure, but the bar was low. They are a Play-In Finalist as the No. 10 seed. – Vardon
Tight race on DPOY
Jackson Jr. led the NBA with blocks per game, but he only appeared in 63 contests. Lopez is third in the league in blocks and is off the charts analytically (things like opposing picks), and he’s also played in 78 games. Mobley, going into his second pro season, was the highest-ranked defensive anchor in the NBA and the most versatile of the three finalists, converting more than Jackson or Lopez — resulting in fewer blocks scored.
It’s always difficult to pick the best defender, and perhaps even more so in a season where scoring has hit record highs. – Vardon
An obvious choice for ROTY
Banchero will win. The #1 pick of the 2022 draft averaged 20 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 72 games for the Magic. His game is perfect for a 20-year-old. He averaged nearly a steal and a block per game—otherwise he lived up to a draft high.
Kessler and Williams both came out strong as the season progressed. For those who don’t know: Thunder has two rookies named Williams with the same first name. One is Jalen (ROTY candidate) and the other is Jaelyn. – Vardon
The first most developed
Markkanen hasn’t had anything close to the season he put it into 2022-23. His scoring jumped 11 points per game (to 25.6), his rebounding rate was up three points per game over last year (to 8.6), his assists were a career high (1.9 per game), and his .499 shooting percentage was also the best. . of its six seasons.
Gilgos Alexander’s goals per game average has gone from 24.5 last season to 31.4 now – fourth best in the NBA. He also shot 51 percent from the field during the regular season, a career best. Both players made the All-Star Team for the first time, but when comparing the two, Gilgos Alexander was on the verge of stardom prior to this year and Markannan wasn’t. – Vardon
Favorite Clutch Player of the Year
This is a new award and the coaches have nominated the players we (the media) can vote for.
Fox led the NBA in scoring (points in the last five minutes of games in which the margin was within five points). DeRozan finished second in the category, and Butler helped the team win 32 “clutch” games (same criteria)—the most in the NBA. – Vardon
(Photo: Bill Streicher/USA Today)
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