Giannis Antetokounmpo? Joel Embiid? Or Nikola Jokić?
The 2022-23 NBA MVP race may produce one of the closest votes in league history.
But if players chose the award winner instead of the media, it would be a landslide.
Embiid, the 76ers’ big man who has been second in MVP voting the past two seasons, would win hands down.
We say this because our staff of hoops scribes recently surveyed 108 current players — nearly one-quarter of the league — for The Athletic’s 2023 NBA Player Poll, which we published Tuesday, and asked them to name this season’s MVP. We granted anonymity to give players the freedom to answer honestly, without fear of reprisal from teammates, players from rival teams and league officials.
Half of the 102 players who answered the question named Embiid their choice for MVP.
“He’s just super dominant on both ends of the floor,” one player said of Embiid, who averaged 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 blocks and a steal for Philadelphia (54-28 regular season; third in the East). “He does a great job of both protecting his team on the defensive end but also scoring on the offensive end. Jokić, I love, but his numbers are a little bit inflated just because (of) the usage rate he has in terms of how he plays the game.”
Jokić finished as the runner-up in our poll, with the Nuggets’ back-to-back MVP receiving 25.5 percent of the vote. Antetokounmpo placed third, with the Bucks’ two-time MVP earning 15.7 percent of the vote.
Boston’s Jayson Tatum ranked fourth, followed by Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in fifth and Dallas’ Luka Dončić in sixth. No other player received a vote.
Votes by a panel of 100 media members, who were selected by league officials, will determine the official winner. The media members’ votes had to be submitted no later than April 10, the day after the regular season ended.
If Jokić wins again this year, he would join Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird as the only people to win the award in three consecutive years. This season, Jokić led the Nuggets to the Western Conference’s best record (53-29) while averaging 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists.
“He can control the game in so many different aspects,” said one of the players who voted for Jokić.
“He can control it in scoring, rebounding, passing. (He’s) a great leader on the court, also. I feel like he makes his teammates so much better. I think he’s the MVP this year. … He almost controlled the game (against us) like a point guard. Whenever they needed a bucket, he got a bucket. Whenever they needed an assist, he got the assist. Whenever they needed a big rebound, he got a rebound. I feel like the energy and leadership that he brings, it’s contagious to the rest of the team. You can see it. When he’s off the court, they’re a totally different team than when he’s on the court.”
With Antetokounmpo (31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists per game) leading the way, the Bucks (58-24) finished with the league’s best record and fourth-best defensive rating.
“I’ve got Giannis,” a player said. “In some ways, his greatness is overlooked because he does it every year. He’s on the best team. They have the best record, obviously. I just think people kind of get bored of what he does, but he’s the best player in the league.”
It’s important to note that several of the players who voted for Embiid in The Athletic’s poll said their choices were partly based on Embiid finishing as the runner-up last season to Jokić when, in their opinion, Embiid was the more deserving choice. Past MVP results aren’t supposed to factor into present-day votes by media members, of course.
“I would say Joel, honestly, because what he did last year (should have earned him MVP),” a player said. “I think even this year, the way he has been playing, and has been for a while, I’ll say Joel. I’ll say Joel, but also (it’s been) Jokić in the past few years, and I think it’d be good to get somebody else.”
In a follow-up to our original piece, we think it’s time to provide additional transparency to why the players voted the way they did in our poll — for MVP, and also for some of the other topics. Consider this as giving the microphone to players who weren’t quoted in our initial article, allowing them now to voice their opinions in an unfiltered way. In this piece, we do not republish the quotes that appeared Tuesday.
Embiid for MVP
“Having played against him and Jokić, I feel like he’s the most dominant of the two. He’s such an integral part of their team, so without him they severely suffer, whereas I think the Nuggets hold up a little better without Jokić.”
“He’s having the best year. Jokić is playing well and so is Giannis, so you could go with any of them. But I think Embiid is the MVP.”
“So consistent and dominant.”
“Definitely Embiid, just because they’re winning games. They’re one of the top teams in the East. I think he kind of should have won it last year, but I mean, Jokić is also having a phenomenal season. But I think this year (Embiid is) the leading scorer.”
Jokić for MVP
“Honestly, I’d have to go with Jokić again. Just what he’s able to do, the consistency, the way he’s able to do it, they’re first in the West. I think it’s pretty obvious. You see people are saying other names, but I just think he’s probably the best overall player in the league right now.”
“I know people are leaning towards Embiid, but I think the impact that he (Jokić) has on his team (is great) — I’ve seen the plus-minus when he’s on the court and off the court, and they’re the top seed in the West. So I think that people kind of get bored giving him the MVP every year. I could make a real strong case for Giannis as well. The same with LeBron when he was in his prime; it’s a crock that he didn’t win it five, six or seven years in a row. So, yeah, I think I would give it to Jokić. But all three of those guys have had a good year.”
“He’s the most dominant player. His defense is underrated — he’s not as bad as everyone says. He’s a good help defender and is good with his anticipation.”
“I just look at the team with and without him. How they flow and operate is so much different than if he’s on the floor and if he’s not.”
“I think it’s Jrue Holiday, because he can guard multiple guys. He can switch onto one through five. And then guys like (Minnesota forward) Jaden McDaniels, because he’s really long and can disrupt a lot (of) offenses, especially on ball screens, where he messes up a lot of reads.”
“Draymond (Green), for sure,” said a player who has played with him as a teammate. “Really, it’s his ability to cover up for other people. So anytime Draymond’s in an action, I feel very comfortable with it. Even if I make mistakes, I can see him covering up the holes or covering up the gaps. So I’ve played against almost everybody in the league, and haven’t seen somebody be able to do it at the same level that he can.”
“(Luguentz Dort is) really, really solid. A strong defender. He moves his feet really well. He understands how to use his body without fouling. … I’m a pretty physical driver, so he does a good job of showing and getting back in front. He has good timing with things like that. It really makes him a good defender, and he knows how to adjust according to whoever he’s playing against.”GO DEEPERHow Lu Dort, the Thunder's 'wall on wheels', became one of the NBA's most feared defenders
“I appreciate that (Bam Adebayo) can switch one-through-five. That would be my classification for Defensive Player of the Year: that you can guard one-through-five and you can switch onto a center or a scoring guard. I’ve seen Bam do that.”
“Yeah, I think it’s always difficult for me when it comes down to this conversation because there’s certain bigs that are great at protecting the paint and there are certain guards that are great at reading pick-and-rolls. It’s really difficult for me when people get into the argument (about best defender), like when you say Marcus Smart is the best defender in the league. Well, is he guarding guards or is it in general with just in general how he affects the game? Mikal Bridges. I love Mikal defensively. I’ve always loved Mikal.”
“(Marcus Smart) has been one of the best defenders that has been able to guard multiple positions … and then picks up on both sides of the basketball and makes sure that he’s covering up gaps and holes for that team.”
“He’s been doing his thing.” — a player who voted for Brook Lopez
“Giannis. Hard worker. A great example for the rest of the team. He’s coachable. He’s passionate about the game. He also uses, as a player, inspiration, and doesn’t hide from it. He speaks about it. I think I saw a video where he was telling LeBron how inspired he was by LeBron’s career. He’s a guy who can put his ego away while being in that position.”
“(Giannis) can carry a team. He draws so much attention. He creates for his teammates. He can score at the rim. He can defend. He plays both ends.”
“That’s a really tough one. Probably the most dominant person — probably Giannis. Yeah, Giannis, just because defenses are trying to build a wall, and I think a lot of people get a lot of open shots from that. And he passes the ball. It’s not like he’s a ball hog. So he passes the ball when you’re open, and he gets downhill and he plays defense.”
“I would probably sign Jokić just because of what he brings to the game. He makes everybody around him better. He’s a phenomenal passer. He can shoot the basketball. He imposes so much pressure on opposing teams. So, I would probably sign him first.”
“Probably Jayson (Tatum). I think he does everything you need. Elite wing. I think that’s how the league is shifting. I don’t necessarily need a big so I wouldn’t say that I would go with one of those monsters. And then I think Giannis is great, too, but he’s getting older. JT’s at the perfect age right now where he’s seasoned enough to win but also experienced enough to guard at the other end of the court, too. Luka (Dončić) would be another one but he just doesn’t defend anybody.”
“To me, it’s like, he blocks shots. What else is he really doing? He’s 7-3.” — a player who voted for Rudy Gobert
“Damn, I hate to say that.” — a player who voted for Chris Paul
“Someone like him has made a whole career out of playing with LeBron.” — a player who voted for Tristan Thompson
“What (Jrue Holiday) does on a night-in, night-out basis on both ends of the court is unmatched and probably goes by a little bit unnoticed under the spotlight of Giannis.”
“Even when (Mikal Bridges) was in Phoenix, he was always capable of ringing off his own runs. He was still always that prolific scorer that he’s showing now. He just has more opportunities to show it now.”
“When (Jaren Jackson Jr.) was an All-Star, there was a lot of people questioning it. (With) the absence of Ja Morant lately, he’s been showing everybody the reason why he’s really an All-Star. He’s been hooping.”
“I know he’s a little old now, but I think underrated for his whole career is Mike Conley. He’s been a good player, obviously, when he was in Memphis . … He still has a lot of game. I don’t think he’s gotten the recognition that he’s earned for his career overall.”
“He deserves more attention.” — a player who voted for Lauri Markkanen
“Honestly, I think De’Aaron (Fox). When the All-Star list came out and he wasn’t on it, that was ridiculous. You’re third in the West, have one of the best road records and what he’s been able to do with clutch points and all that stuff that you look at, he’s head and shoulders above some of those other players, I think.”
“Derrick White. … I think the league knows that he’s good but you don’t hear about him other than Celtics fans.”
“To me, the debate is always going to come down to ‘Is Michael the greatest player or is LeBron the greatest player?’ Now if you go by the numbers, people say LeBron because he has the most points scored in the history of the league. But I think Michael took the game globally and allowed kids to dream and put the NBA game into people’s minds. It showed them that this was a unique game. So I think in that regard, and for all the amazing things that Michael has done, Michael is always going to be looked at that way, as the God of basketball. I think Michael, to me, is that guy just because of the way he put the game globally.”
“No Game 7 in the Finals, six MVPs, 10-time first team All-Defense, 6-0 in the finals, it speaks for itself.” — someone who voted for Michael Jordan (it should be noted Jordan won five MVPs and was named to the All-Defensive First Team nine times).
“I’m a Kobe guy, but I still have to go with M.J. Everybody can debate all they want, but I just think that what he was able to do for the game and how easy he made it look (was special). So I say M.J.”
“Everybody wants to talk about rings or record in the Finals, and that’s fine. But to be able to do what (LeBron is) doing, and now to be the all-time scoring leader and where he’s going to end up in all-time assists, and games played and consecutive All-Star (appearances), you go down the line. I just think longevity is a big piece there.”
“I’ve got LeBron. I get to play against him. His longevity, how long he’s been doing it and just his overall effect on the game (makes it him). He’s not even known as a scorer and he’s the all-time (leading) scorer.”
“Nobody messes with James Johnson.”
“He’s like one of the strongest dudes in our league. He’s picking people up. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to fight him.” — a player who voted for Steven Adams
“There’s no way I’m scared of him, but Draymond (Green) has a presence. It’s not a fear, but you feel his energy he brings to the game and to their team. I think it’s wild, too, how much he can say to the refs without any repercussions.”
“I think Philly is the toughest fans on their players. I think the worst fans as far as maybe no support is Atlanta — always just kind of a mediocre crowd, and it’s just kind of dull.”
“Too fancy. I don’t know, maybe the people are too rich that go to the games. I don’t feel like they’re as passionate about it. But it changes.” —someone who voted for the Knicks’ Madison Square Garden
“Just quiet. Kind of boring. No energy in the building.” — a player who voted for the Magic’s Amway Center
“They talk crazy s— there.” — a player who voted for the Celtics’ TD Garden
“I think Knicks fans understand the game really well. I appreciate that.”
“They’re the craziest group, and I like that. That’s my style.” — someone who voted for the Sixers’ Wells Fargo Center
“I think Utah has a really good fan base. I think Utah is always pretty loud, no matter how good or bad they are.”
“The way they travel, and the way they show love at home, is unmatched. I’ve never seen anything like it — ever.” — a player who voted for the Warriors’ Chase Center
“I like his vibe. I like the way he talks about, and talks to, his players. I feel like I could learn a lot from him.” — a player who voted for Monty Williams
“It seems like he has good player relationships with a lot of his guys, gives them a lot of green lights.” — someone who voted for Darvin Ham
“He understands his players. He played also, so he gets them. He won’t mind getting on them, cussing you out because he wants the best for you. And he’s a good dude. Outside of basketball, he’s generally a good person.” — a voter for Tyronn Lue
“I could say (Will) Hardy in Utah, too. I just like young coaches with a fresh perspective.” — someone who voted for Joe Mazzulla
“I feel like (Doc Rivers) lets his guys play — ball screens, letting his guards kind of rock out and make reads. And he’s a really good historical coach.”
“I’ve heard the day-to-day meticulous operation that he runs (is a lot).” — a voter for Quin Snyder
“I love Thibs, but I heard his practices are crazy.”
“I feel like Doc Rivers would make me run a lot. I don’t know why.”
“(Luka) talks s— all around. He talks to refs and players. Like, ‘Oh, I got you right there. You know that was a foul.’”
“(Marcus Smart) wants you to play against him one on one instead of sharing with the team. And he’s a really good on-the-ball defender. So he knows that and he wants you to go one on one with him.”
“Pat Bev doesn’t stop.”
“(Chris Paul) does it quietly, when he’s bending over and people can’t see him. He talks a lot. He just speaks a lot to the bench. He talks a lot to the guys on the bench. He said to one of my teammates, ‘You’re gonna need me when you’re done playing, and you should be thanking me,’ and this type of stuff.”
“If (Devin Booker) has it going, he’ll start chirping. But he’s not loud.”
(Illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic; Photos: Tim Nwachukwu, Michael Gonzales, Nathaniel S. Butler / Getty Images)
Six players — Deandre Ayton, Tobias Harris, Jaren Jackson Jr., Damian Lillard, Austin Reaves and Nikola Vučević — received votes for both “most overrated” and “most underrated” (a category you can find next). The Lillard inclusion in this section was quite unexpected.Who is the most overrated player in the NBA poll? ›
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- After finishing as the runner-up for the award the past two seasons, Joel Embiid finally got his trophy. Embiid beat out Denver's Nikola Jokić and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo on Tuesday to win the 2023 NBA MVP Award for the first time in his career.Who will decide NBA MVP? ›
The MVP winners are chosen by a voting panel made up of sportswriters and broadcasters each year. They name their top five picks, with 10 points to the top choice, seven for a second-place vote, five points for a third-place vote, three points for fourth and a single point for fifth.Who will win most improved player NBA 2023? ›
The Most Consistent Players in the NBA
For one, the best players in the league are generally the most consistent: Jokic, Embiid, Durant, Antetokounmpo, LeBron, Doncic (some of the other top guys just missed the cut; more on them in a second).
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Golden State Warriors
According to our index, the Golden State Warriors officially have the most loyal NBA fans – by quite some way - with a total supporter score of 4.842 out of 5, even with the team sitting some way short of expectation in the Western Conference.
1. Michael Jordan. Ten scoring titles, nine All-Defensive First-Team nods, six Finals MVPs, five MVPs, and got his first one in 1988 when he was also the All-Star Game MVP and the Defensive Player of the Year.Who will be the best NBA team 2023? ›
Just three seasons after being drafted No. 1 overall, Derrick Rose was named MVP at the age of 22.Did Embiid get MVP? ›
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid won the NBA's Most Valuable Player award for the 2022-23 season, the league announced Tuesday, finally claiming the prestigious trophy after finishing second the past two seasons.Who are runners for the MVP NBA? ›
For the second consecutive season, the three finalists for the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player are Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.What is MVP in slang? ›
Meaning of MVP in English
abbreviation for most valuable player: someone or something considered to be most important or useful: It turned out that Sansa was MVP in Game of Thrones. My screen protector was the real MVP this weekend. Fewer examples.
NBA Most Improved Player Odds: Most Improved Player Race
At the moment, Lauri Markkanen is the favorite to win the NBA MIP award but see below why there are a number of players who could leap him by the end of the season.
Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon is the recipient of the John Havlicek Trophy as the 2022-23 Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Brogdon beat out fellow finalists Immanuel Quickley of New York and Bobby Portis of Milwaukee, receiving 60 of 100 first-place votes and 408 points overall from a media panel.Who is the best NBA player to never make an All-Star team? ›
That honor went to Cedric Maxwell, better known by his nickname, Cornbread. In the 1981 Finals, Maxwell shot nearly 57 percent from the field, scored 17.7 ppg, and pulled down 9.5 rpg. Cornbread took that series over and had a fine career overall but was never selected to an All-Star team.Who is the favorite in the NBA 2023? ›
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LeBron is the league's best player and most versatile as well.
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The NBA record for most fans in attendance at a single event remains 108,713, which was set at the 2010 All-Star Game held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. San Antonio were playing at the Alamodome as part of a celebration of their 50th anniversary in the league.Who has the best friendship in the NBA? ›
- Rashad McCants and Kevin Garnett.
- LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. ...
- Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. ...
- Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki. ...
- Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton. 4 of 10. ...
- Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. 3 of 10. ...
- Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. 2 of 10. ...
- Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. 1 of 10. ...
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He led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA titles, more than any other player, and altered the course of the NBA by demonstrating that championships could be won with defense.
LeBron James becomes NBA's all-time leading scorer, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.Who is the deepest team in the NBA? ›
The Boston Celtics are the deepest team in the NBA according to a recent analysis by Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes. Unlike many such analyses, however, Hughes focuses more on the quality of the depth over the sheer number of playable options on the roster.Who has #1 offense in NBA? ›
NBA Team Rankings -2023 Offensive Rankings.
|Team Name||Golden State Warriors GS|
The Boston Celtics are the greatest franchise in NBA history, largely because of the team's display of sheer dominance in the 1960s. The Celtics especially epitomized greatness in the 1964-65 NBA season.
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Iverson became the shortest player to win MVP when he won it in 2000-01 at 6-foot-0. Prior to that, Bob Cousy was the shortest to win it at 6-foot-1 in 1956-57.Who is the oldest MVP all sports? ›
In 2021, Rodgers won the NFL MVP at 37 years old, putting him just behind Brady as the oldest NFL MVP winner. Peyton Manning also once held the honor of being the oldest NFL MVP winner when he accomplished that feat in 2013. At the end of the regular season, Manning was 37 years and 270 days old.Who won MVP over Wilt? ›
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Anthony has additionally won Olympic Gold Medals, and an NCAA Championship during his lone collegiate season. He may never have won an MVP award, but other than that, there is basically no level of basketball success that Anthony hasn't achieved.Did Reggie Miller get MVP? ›
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"OG" is an abbreviation for "original gangster." While rapper and actor Ice-T did not create the term, his song "O.G. Original Gangster" may come to mind when you hear the word.What does MVP girl mean? ›
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- Luka Doncic (1st in projections, 2nd in vote)
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- Nikola Jokic (2nd in projections, tied for 3rd in vote)
- Jayson Tatum (5th in projections, 5th in vote)
It was first played during the short-term 2020–2021 season, but it has earned a spot on the game calendar as a spectacular campaign addition. On April 9, 2023, the 2022–2023 NBA regular season will come to a successful end, and from April 11–14, 2023, after March Madness, the Play-Ins will officially kick-off.Who is the longest lasting NBA player? ›
Vince Carter has played the most career seasons, with 22 seasons.Who is the best youngster in the NBA? ›
- Tyrese Haliburton (22 years old) ...
- Jaren Jackson Jr (23 years old) ...
- Luka Doncic (23 years old) ...
- Jayson Tatum (24 years old) ...
- Bam Adebayo (25 years old) ...
- Lauri Markkanen (25 years old) ...
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The Miami Heat lost to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night in the Play-In Tournament.
(4/28/23) With their 125-85 win in Game 6, the Lakers win the first round in the 2023 Western Conference playoffs, beating the Memphis Grizzlies (4-2).