Who Should the NBA’s MVP Be?

Photo Source: Andrew Kenney/NBA via AP

Photo Source: Andrew Kenney/NBA via AP

Adam Post-Montjoie, Writer

With the 2022-2023 NBA regular season almost over, the candidates for this years Most Valuable Player have been narrowed down to a choice few, with there not being enough time left in the season for the list to change significantly. The five potential winners in this article are not listed in any order, although some are considered more likely to win than others. However, huge losses or triumphs are weighed heavier this close to the end of the season, so nothing is impossible. This is based on the players stats, efficiency rating, and team seedings through March 21st, with any other stories or data not being taken into consideration.


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Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)

Pros: Many would argue that Jayson Tatum is the best player on the best team, with the Celtics having been the highest ranked team for the majority of the season. Tatum is the 6th best scorer in the league with a 30.1 PPG (points per game) average, and he ranks high in assists and rebounds as well. Many would not consider Tatum as a serious contender for the MVP due to the strength of his team, but the fact that he led the Celtics to the NBA Finals last season cannot be discounted.


Cons: The Celtics are a notably deep team, with even the bench players being better than most benches in the league. This takes a lot of the focus away from Tatum himself, making his efforts less impressive compared to other candidates. While Tatum is having the most efficient season of his career (61% true shooting), his efficiency is ranked at 16th and the rest of the candidates in consideration are all inside the top four. Additionally, the Celtics only have a mediocre record of eight wins and six losses since the All-Star Break, leading them to slip from the top of the league into second place.


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Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)

Pros: Two time MVP winner in 2019 and 2020, Giannis is one of the strongest contenders for the MVP. The Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the Eastern Conference and the NBA, taking the top spot from the Celtics after the All-Star Break. Giannis is the 5th highest scorer with 31.3 PPG and is tied in second for rebounds per game with 11.9. Giannis led the Bucks to a dominant sixteen game winning streak through February, the longest streak in the NBA since the 2021 season.


Cons: While it isn’t exactly a bad thing, many would argue that the Bucks are too good without Giannis for him to be the most valuable player in the league. Giannis has missed fifteen games this season, yet his team still won nine of them. His teammate Jrue Holiday was an All-Star this year, and his teammate Brook Lopez is the frontrunner for the Defensive Player of the Year award. The Bucks are still very capable of winning without Giannis, with Joel Embiid being the only other candidate on this list able to say the same.


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Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

Pros: The reigning back to back MVP, Nikola Jokic has shown that he is an MVP caliber player in the 2022 and 2021, and there’s no difference this season. Jokic is the most efficient player in the NBA, and averages a triple double of 24.7 PPG, 11.9 rebounds (tied for second with Giannis), and ten assists per game. In addition, the Nuggets have the best record in the Western Conference, and a top three team in the NBA. Jokic has been viewed as the frontrunner for most of the season, and him being last year’s winner makes this his race. 


Cons: While the MVP is supposed to be a regular season award, it would be inaccurate to say playoff success isn’t taken into consideration when deciding the winner. Giannis was highly criticized for poor performance in the playoffs when he was eligible to win his third MVP in 2021, and Jokic is in the exact same boat this year. The MVP voters often fatigue if they feel a player has not earned the MVP in the playoffs, which happened with both Lebron James and Michael Jordan. Jokic would be the 4th player ever to win three consecutive MVPs if he wins, yet despite this, he has never been to the NBA Finals.


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Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)

Pros: Joel Embiid is the leagues leading scorer with an average of 33.6 PPG, doing it all with the second highest efficiency in the league. This alone makes him one of the strongest candidates, with his team’s good record only adding to his case. Embiid was the runner up to Jokic’s MVPs in 2021 and 2022, and nearing the end of the season he has overtaken Jokic as the top spot in the NBA’s official MVP ladder. 


Cons: Like Giannis, Embiid’s very high caliber teammates go against his case. The second best player on the 76ers is James Harden, who won the MVP in 2018. While Harden is not the same player he was a few years ago, he still leads the league in assists per game, and has the 29th most points per game. The 76ers have proven they don’t need Embiid to win every game, with them winning nine of the thirteen games he has missed this season, making his impact on his team less than some of the other candidates.


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Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

Pros: The youngest candidate on this list, Luka is the league’s second highest scorer, averaging 33 points per game with the third highest efficiency in the league. Luka has carried his team on back for this season, with the Mavericks second best player having left the team at the end of last season. Luka had a career high game this season, with sixty points, twenty rebounds, and ten assists. Despite this, his team only won that game by five points, showing how valuable he is to the Mavericks.


Cons: While Luka has been scoring high this season, his team has not been. The Mavericks have lost as many games as they’ve won, with a score of 36-36,, giving them by far the worst record of all candidates’ teams. His team’s poor performance is not Luka’s fault, but it will certainly be taken into consideration. Only two players have won the MVP with a losing record before, which is something the Mavericks are only a game off of.


The MVP is an award that means a lot to the players and their legacies, and this close to the season there is still not a standout winner. No matter who wins, the choice will be controversial with both players and fans due to how close the race is.