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 Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Rookie of the Year

The Sixers currently have zero rookies on the roster, so…

1. Paolo Banchero, Magic

There has been a strong push for the No. 2 contender on this ballot, but the award has been locked up by Paolo Banchero at this point. His advanced numbers are admittedly unsavory in spots, but one has to remember the context: Banchero is a rookie asked to be the primary shot-taker on a bad team.

He has struggled with efficiency (especially from 3-point range, where he’s shooting 28.2 percent), but Banchero has also posted some historic scoring stretches for a rookie. He can dominate inside and out, with polished footwork, big-shot ability, a skill set that projects toward long-term stardom.

2. Jalen Williams, Thunder

Jalen Williams continues to stuff the stat sheet for an OKC team currently in the playoff hunt. He is impacting winning for a good team, which is often overlooked in this race. It’s impossible to overlook the sheer volume of production from Banchero, whose season is probably a bit underrated at this point. But Williams deserves to be considered and he clearly has a bright future for the Thunder.

3. Walker Kessler, Jazz

Another player who has a stronger case than some might let on. Walker Kessler already grades out as one of the best rim protectors in the NBA. That’s not common for a rookie. Since taking over the starting reigns in Utah, Kessler has been a nightly double-double threat who finishes with above-average efficiency in the lane and who can swat 3-4 shots on a given night.

Also in the mix: Keegan Murray, Jaden Ivey, Bennedict Mathurin