2023 NBA awards ballot: Joel Embiid’s MVP chances with two weeks left

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Most Improved Player

A lot of preseason speculative pieces were dedicated to Tyrese Maxey’s odds of winning this award. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, it was not to be. An early-season foot injury disrupted Maxey’s momentum in too significant a manner and his time spent in the sixth man role did him no favors individually.

1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder

OKC continues to make its play-in push, largely on the back of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s stardom. He is approaching top-10 player territory. Few players are more challenging to contain one-on-one. Gilgeous-Alexander just has endless tricks up his sleeve — with long strides, the ability to shift gears on a dime, and some of the craftiest footwork in the league. Already very good, this season has seen Gilgeous-Alexander transform himself into a one-machine offensive wrecking crew. He should have this award locked up.

2. Lauri Markkanen, Jazz

Last season, Lauri Markkanen seemed to find new life as a floor spacer and complementary scorer for the top-heavy Cavs. In his first season with Utah, however, any reasonable expectations have been blown out of the away. Markkanen is averaging 25.4 points per game on remarkable efficiency, combining elite off-ball movement and shooting with the ability to simply put his head down and hit tough shots. He’s a bonafide star and the center of Utah’s rebuild.

3. Jalen Brunson, Knicks

Jalen Brunson has been one of the NBA’s most prolific scorers since the calendar flipped to 2023. New York has surged to the No. 5 seed in the East in the meantime, looking like a genuine upstart contender with the potential to play party-crasher for one of the conference’s more established ring-hunters.

Also in the mix: Tyrese Haliburton, Alperen Sengun, Anthony Edwards