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 Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

2023 NBA MVP ladder — 4. Luka Doncic, Mavericks

Luka Doncic has been next-in-line for MVP contention for a couple years now. He’s a one-man machine like no other. The Mavs scrapped their way to the conference finals last season despite the absence of a true second star. Doncic’s ability (and the necessity) to shoulder a Herculean workload makes him a prime candidate to put up the numbers necessary to win MVP.

There’s no doubt Doncic will have the raw counting stats. He’s going to be near the top of the league in points and assists, he will probably lead the NBA in usage, and the Mavs are going to win plenty of games. That said, will Dallas win enough games? They might’ve gotten worse this summer. Plus, Doncic is easily the worst defender on this list.

For those simple reasons, Doncic does not ascend to the top of my preseason predictions. That said, he’s an absolute wizard with the basketball who will have no shortage of highlight moments and narrative support. He’s good enough to win MVP, and he’s only 23 years old. It’s a matter of when, not if.

If he can get the requisite support from teammates to win in the regular season — if Christian Wood shows up engaged and ready to win, if Spencer Dinwiddie steps up in a starting role — then Doncic is on the radar. I just wouldn’t put him in poll position just yet.