NBA award ballots: MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and more

Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The 2021-22 NBA regular season is now complete. It’s time to cast our annual award ballots here at The Sixer Sense. These ballots are not official and have no bearing on the eventual outcome, but it’s always fun to sift through the rubble of another bonkers, ceaselessly entertaining NBA season. There are too many award contenders to count, but we’ve done our best.

Joining me to cast his ballot is my co-site expert Lucas Johnson. The Sixers have several contenders here — Joel Embiid for MVP and All-Defense, Tyrese Maxey for Most Improved, James Harden for All-NBA, Matisse Thybulle for All-Defense, Paul Reed for MVP (fine, fine, scratch the last one). How many did we pick?

NBA award ballots: MVP

Christopher Kline

  1. Nikola Jokic, DEN
  2. Joel Embiid, PHI
  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
  4. Devin Booker, PHX 
  5. Luka Doncic, DAL

This has been a particularly difficult MVP debate to sift through. There have been plenty of bad-faith arguments on every side of the fence, and no fanbase appears willing to admit the one simple truth: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo all had historic, MVP-worthy seasons, and in a less aberrational year, all three would be runaway favorites.

At the end of the day, Jokic should probably win his second MVP award. He’s the most efficient three-level scorer in basketball, one of the truly great passers of his generation, and a much better defender than he gets credit for. The “he only impacts one side of the game” argument no longer stands. Obviously, Embiid is the most dominant and forceful scorer in the NBA and a damn good defensive anchor. Giannis could justifiably win Defensive Player of the Year, and the Bucks are better than both Philadelphia and Denver. All three have strong cases, but Jokic is my pick.

Lucas Johnson

  1. Joel Embiid, PHI
  2. Nikola Jokic, DEN
  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
  4. Devin Booker, PHX
  5. DeMar DeRozan, CHI

Figuring out the awards this season was pretty tough compared to other years. Let’s start with the MVP, which I award to Joel Embiid who made NBA history on several fronts including leading the league in scoring. Embiid is the most dominant player in the NBA and deserves the MVP this season.

Nikola Jokic was a close second as he’s set an NBA record, but his lack of impact on both sides take him out of the running for me. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the type of player who could win it every year. Devin Booker is the best player on the best team so putting him in the top five was simple for me. Rounding it out is DeMar DeRozan who has carried the Chicago Bulls through a lot of injuries this season.