2023 NBA awards race: Embiid’s MVP push, picks for every award

James Harden, Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
James Harden, Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The 2022-23 NBA regular season has finally reached its conclusion. Now, everyone’s attention turns toward what promises to be an exciting postseason. It’s also time for NBA media members to cast their official award ballots. While we unfortunately don’t receive a vote here at The Sixer Sense, here’s what it would look like if we did.

Naturally, we have to view this awards season through the prism of Joel Embiid’s MVP push — the same push he has been making for three years straight now. A second consecutive scoring title and elite defensive production has put Embiid firmly in the mix. In fact, he’s probably the betting favorite. Is he clearly the best choice, or is there more nuance to the discussion?

Also, there’s the question of whether or not James Harden (who only played 58 games) will receive All-NBA recognition after being snubbed from the All-Star team in February. One also has to consider the new CBA. While it’s not in effect for this season, Harden did not reach the 65-game minimum that will be enforced starting in 2024. Will voter’s take that into account?

NBA awards race: Should the Philadelphia76ers take home any hardware?

Executive of the Year

1. Sam Presti, Thunder

It’s hard to quantify a single season of work for NBA executives. The GM job is ongoing, all-encompassing, and never-stopping. Presti has carefully laid the tracks for OKC’s rebuild over the last half-decade, but we’re starting to see the fruits of that rebuild blossom. No GM has a better batting average than Presti — every big trade, every marginal signing, every draft pick seems to be panning out.

2. Brad Stevens, Celtics

The Celtics have the deepest roster top to bottom in the NBA, with starting-level talent eight or nine-deep. Brad Stevens’ ability to build out the roster and balance talent around the Tatum-Brown duo has cemented Boston as contenders for the foreseeable future.

3. Monte McNair, Kings

The Kings were dead in the water, until they weren’t. Monte McNair made the big Domantas Sabonis trade last season, but he spent the summer acquiring all the right complementary pieces to accentuate Sabonis and his co-star De’Aaron Fox. The highlights include new head coach Mike Brown (more on him shortly), No. 4 pick Keegan Murray, and Kevin Huerter.

Honorable mention: Koby Altman, Cavaliers

Coach of the Year

1. Mike Brown, Kings

The Kings ended the longest postseason drought in the NBA, and not with a play-in berth. Sacramento is the No. 3 seed in the West and winner of the Pacific Division, a division that happens to include LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Stephen Curry, Devin Booker, and now even Kevin Durant. Pretty darn impressive for Mike Brown’s first season with the team!

2. Mark Daigneault, Thunder

The Thunder are playing playoff-caliber defense despite an average team age of 22.8. How OKC has been so connected and reliable on both sides of the ball with a bunch of kids is beyond me. Mark Daigneault will probably find himself in the Coach of the Year discussion again in future years.

3. Jacques Vaughn, Nets

No team faced turbulence quite like Brooklyn did this season, and the Nets are still the No. 6 seed despite it all. Jacques Vaughn had the Nets looking like title contenders prior to the Durant and Irving trades. Then, he pivoted with an entirely new starting five and kept Brooklyn thoroughly respectable. He deserves his flowers.

Honorable mention: Mike Malone, Nuggets