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 Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

2023 NBA MVP ladder — 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

I fear we may have reached a point where the award voting body is numb to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s greatness. He is widely proclaimed as the best player in the world — a one of one physical talent who can dominate both sides of the floor. You can slow him down, maybe, but you can’t really stop him. And yet, it feels like the two-time MVP is facing an uphill battle in the MVP race for that very reason.

If you take Giannis’ numbers last season at face value — and consider Milwaukee’s team success despite injuries around him — it’s absurd that he finished third in the MVP race. He ran into two all-time individual campaigns from Embiid and Jokic, but even still, Antetokounmpo was historically good offensively and defensively. We can call in the LeBron James effect — James only has four MVPs on his resumé, but he was far and away the best player in the NBA more than four years.

Giannis will enter next season still considered the best player in the world. Depending on who you ask, the Bucks are title favorites. There’s a good chance Milwaukee is the No. 1 seed in the East. And yet, it’s hard to call Antetokounmpo the favorite. He basically has to outperform his sky-high, best-in-the-world expectations. A simple dominant run from a two-way “Freak” probably isn’t enough.

Of course, you cannot count out Antetokounmpo. He’s liable to put up numbers we’ve never seen before. He’s liable to win DPOY and MVP simultaneously. He’s that kind of good. But, he’s not in poll position ahead of the season.