Sixers: Joel Embiid and the early 2023 MVP ladder

Sixers, Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Sixers, Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Joel Embiid is one of the NBA’s premier superstars. Consecutive runner-up finishes in the MVP race have only cemented that fact. While Embiid’s inability to get over the hump and finish first has been a source of great dismay for many in the Sixers fanbase, there is no denying Embiid’s spot near the top of the NBA food chain.

Now, with the 2022-23 season on the horizon, Embiid is once again a heavy favorite to contend for the league’s top individual accolade. He has the narrative on his side — two years of almost winning — and the Sixers are expected to win quite a few regular season games. That said, is Embiid the favorite?

While it’s too early to have any real sense of the awards race, let’s canvass the league and break down the five most likely contenders for the award — and just where Embiid sits among them.

2023 NBA MVP ladder — 5. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry reminded everyone of his greatness in the playoffs, winning his fourth championship and his first Finals MVP. He’s not in peak form anymore, but frankly, Curry’s not that far off either. He’s still a preternatural offensive talent, effortlessly warping opposing defenses and burying them with the greatest shooting stroke in league history.

Last season was the first time Curry shot below 40 percent from deep. It’s a safe bet to assume that won’t happen twice. He has the skill to continue aging gracefully, and the Warriors are right at the top of the list of contenders in the Western Conference.

Very few players elevate teammates like Curry. Whether he’s simply occupying the defense’s attention off the ball, or he’s looking to create for others out of the pick-and-roll, his presence drastically improves those around him.

He has the marquee name, the big-market exposure, and the narrative propulsion of a recent championship victory. It would be foolish to count Curry out of the MVP race, even if there are younger, fresher faces expected to join the mix.