With the All-Star break just around the corner, it’s time we share our updated NBA MVP race 2023.
NBA MVP race 2023: Ladder at the All-Star break
As it usually happens, some candidates have fallen due to injuries or others rising, while others continue to march steadily at the top of the ladder.
10. LeBron James
The year is 2023, yet LeBron James continues to climb his way up the NBA MVP ladder. LeBron is going through a historical season, becoming the league’s all-time leading scorer while also becoming fourth-all-time in assists. Moreover, The King continues to will the Los Angeles Lakers into wins, even if his supporting cast doesn’t step up.
Thus far, James has averaged a whopping 30.2 points per game, which would be the second-highest figure in his career. He’s also grabbing 8.5 boards to go along with 7.0 assists, 1.0 steals, and 2.2 three-pointers per game on 50.8% from the floor. Oh, and he’s 38 years old, in case you were wondering.
9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
If someone would’ve told you that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — of all people — would be one of the current NBA MVP candidates at this point in the season, chances are you would’ve called him crazy. And it’s not because he’s not a difference-maker, but because of the fact that no one saw the Oklahoma City Thunder coming.
The Thunder have flirted with playoff contention all year long, and a lot of that has to do with Shai’s stellar play. He’s averaging 30.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.1 blocks, and 2.6 three-pointers per game on 50.8% from the floor. That’s Michael Jordan, LeBron James kind of efficiency for a perimeter player.
8. Damian Lilllard
The Portland Trail Blazers haven’t exactly been impressive this season. But Damian Lillard continues to do whatever he can to will them into contention, becoming one of the most explosive scorers in the league again and playing like an MVP candidate despite his team’s shortcomings.
Lillard won’t be denied. He takes the floor with a chip on his shoulder night in and night out, as he knows his team needs him to ball out just to have a shot at the W. Throughout the season, the All-Star guard has averaged 31.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 4.2 triples per game on 46/47/91 shooting splits.
7. Domantas Sabonis
Barring a major disaster, the Sacramento Kings will finally put an end to their league-worst playoff drought. And while De’Aaron Fox and Mike Brown deserve plenty of credit for this turnaround, Domantas Sabonis has been their best player since arriving in that no-longer-infamous Tyrese Haliburton trade.
Sabonis was the missing piece the Kings have craved for years now. He’s dominating both sides of the glass and has been one of the most efficient interior scorers in recent years, not to mention his elite playmaking skills for a guy his size. This season, he’s averaging 18.8 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game on 61.1% shooting.
6. Ja Morant
Ja Morant may not be the most popular among the current NBA MVP candidates right now, given his recent history of off-court controversies and constant trash-talking. But from a basketball standpoint, he’s been a stud and has more than enough reasons to get in everybody’s faces.
Morant has led the Memphis Grizzlies to the second-best record in the Western Conference. Their foes around the league don’t seem to like them that much anymore, but their numbers speak for themselves. Right now, the former second-overall pick is averaging 27.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.7 triples.
5. Jayson Tatum
The fact that Jayson Tatum is currently sitting at the fifth spot on the NBA MVP ladder only speaks volumes about how competitive this season has been. The Boston Celtics have the best record in the Association, and Tatum has been their best player, so some wonder why he’s not ranked higher.
While that’s not for us to debate right now, we cannot deny that Tatum is playing the best basketball of his career. He’s to blame for Jaylen Brown‘s injury, but he’s balling out other than that. Thus far, he’s averaged 30.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.1 steals, and 3.3 three-pointers a night on 46.1% from the floor.
4. Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic could have one of the best MVP-winning seasons in league history with the kind of numbers he’s posting. He’s making a strong case for being considered the best young player in the league and perhaps even one of the most unique and impactful talents this beautiful game has ever seen.
The Dallas Mavericks just paired him with Kyrie Irving, but his production isn’t likely to be affected whatsoever, as the great players often figure things out right away. Throughout the course of the season, the former Real Madrid star has averaged a league-high 33.2 points, 8.9 boards, 8.1 dimes, 1.5 steals, and 2.7 threes on 50.5% shooting.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Our podium for the NBA MVP race 2023 kicks off with a usual suspect. It’s starting to feel like we’re taking Giannis Antetokounmpo for granted, as no one seems to be talking about him as a legit MVP candidate, yet he continues to post the very same numbers — if not better — than those he had during his two season-winning awards.
The Milwaukee Bucks will continue to be candidates for as long as Giannis is leading the way and he continues to be at the top in nearly every major category. Right now, the Greek Freak is recording more videogame-like averages, scoring 32.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 5.5 assists on 54.0% from the field.
2. Joel Embiid
As of now, it’s crazy to think that no one seems to be taking Joel Embiid‘s MVP candidacy seriously. It’s starting to feel personal at this point, as he’s been balling out on both ends of the floor for years now, yet he’s never actually been considered the leading MVP candidate. Perhaps it all has to do with his bigger rival, Nikola Jokic.
Whatever the case, Embiid’s numbers are once again MVP-ish, and the Philadelphia 76ers look like a serious candidate to go the distance this season. Over the season, Embiid has averaged 33.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.5 blocks, and 1.1 three-pointers on 53/36/85 splits.
1. Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic’s MVP chances should consider this season and this season alone. So, people should not ask, ‘should Jokic win three consecutive MVPs?’ as every year is a different animal. The question should be, ‘should Jokic win MVP this season?’ and the answer would — undoubtedly —be: Yes.
Jokic has been the best player in the league this season by most advanced metrics, and the eye test isn’t that far off, either.
Regardless of who’s healthy or not, the Denver Nuggets have been the best, most consistent team in the West, and most of that has to do with him. Right now, the greatest passing big man of all time is averaging a triple-double of 24.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 10.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 0.9 triples per game on 63/39/82 shooting splits. That’s just insane.