Most Valuable Player – Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Apologies to all The Sixer Sense readers for not running it back with Joel Embiid for the Most Valuable Player Award, but we need to be objective and unbiased. Embiid earned his MVP Award last year and the ceremony at the Wells Fargo Center was a long time coming. Yet, while the Sixers were sitting at home watching the Conference Championships like all of us, Nikola Jokic was undeniably dominating en route to his first NBA Championship with the Denver Nuggets.
The last five MVP Awards have gone to three players: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Joel Embiid. In years past, MVP voters have gotten voter fatigue and seemingly looked for other players worthy of the award to cast their vote for. This has never been more clear in the fact that LeBron James has only won 4 MVP Awards when he was the best player in the league for a minimum of 10 years.
Even considering that, it does not appear that there will be more than 5 or 6 serious candidates for the award this upcoming season, including the three mentioned above. Jokic said all the right things when he was the runner-up last season, and in the end, he did get the final laugh as most players will tell you their team winning a Championship is more important than any individual award they could receive.
The NBA Playoffs last year appeared to be just a glimpse of what Jokic and the Denver Nuggets could look like at their peak. The team had Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray come back from injury and both found their form quickly. They also had a short, but incredibly productive bench that proved key in the playoffs. Of course, at the center of all of this is Nikola Jokic.
In the 2022-23 season, Jokic essentially averaged a triple-double for the entire season! His averages were 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, and a career-high 9.8 assists while recording a career-high shooting percentage of 63.2% from the field. He is heading into his 9th NBA season and is seemingly still getting better, a fact that should terrify the rest of the league.
With the uncertainty around Harden’s future in Philadelphia and Damian Lillard likely taking some statistics away from Giannis, it seems as though the MVP Award is Jokic’s for the taking this season.