Every day we get closer to the start of the NBA season. With Media Day come and gone, it’s now time to start taking the temperature of our staff on a number of topics. Up first: who will be the 2023-24 NBA MVP!
Christian: Giannis Antetokounmpo. As much as I want it to be LukaDoncic, I think with Damian Lilliard spacing that offense out and a highly motivated Greek freak he really could be an MVP every year barring injury like LeBron James.
Matt: We’ve had our back-and-forth with Embiid and Jokic for a few years now. Luka has consistently been at the top for oddsmakers in the preseason for the past couple of years. Perhaps this is the year when the stars align: Luka elevates his play just that next half step, the Mavericks as a team have a solid season and cruise to the playoffs, and the league as a whole is looking for a new face to bestow an MVP upon. We have seen some instances where dual stars can cannibalize each other’s MVP chances, and there’s the possibility some of that could be in play with Kyrie Irving and Luka sharing a backcourt, but this is clearly Luka’s team, and there’s no reason this can’t be his MVP year.
Ben: The Celtics have revamped their team, and after yet another disappointing playoff run, Jayson Tatum will enter this season motivated to dominate. With the Celtics’ improved shooting, he’ll have more room to operate and put up some big numbers while guiding Boston to a top-two seed. He’s your MVP.
Matthew: Nikola Jokic. Often times the awards voting is a result of the previous seasons’ playoff results. Jokic is the clear-cut best player in the world and while it might be tempting to go in another direction, I believe the voters will get this one right. The only reason he didn’t win the award last season is because he actively tried not to. Without the burden of voter fatigue, he wins this one going away.
Doyle: I was talking to someone who covers the Sixers, among other things, at a friend’s wedding recently. He made the point that now that Joel Embiid has an MVP, the narrative can shift, allowing other players to enter the conversation. Jokic was clearly the better of the two players last year, but a significant amount of media spin undoubtedly shifted votes away from him. I still think it’s his to lose this season, but I expect Luka Doncic and Jason Tatum to be the early frontrunners for the award. After years of Jokic “versus” Embiid, Doncic and Tatum are the next logical media hype darlings.
David: Nikola Jokic will win his third MVP. He should have won it last year, but the media narrative did not allow for it. He is the best player in basketball, and the only reason voters got cold feet for crowning him a third consecutive time was because it was thought that that would put him too high on all-time rankings without any winning to back it up. Well, he has a ring on his finger and there are no excuses now to not say he’s an all-time great. Winning a third MVP will come with another historic season, as there still is no answer for the dominance he displays.
Isaac: Nikola Jokic is my favorite to win MVP, assuming the Nuggets finish the season as a top-3 seed. Even if other players have better statistical seasons, I tihnk voters will lean Jokic after this year’s results favored Embiid. Jokic silenced the doubters with the Nuggets’ championship run last June and will have more respect from the voters this time around. Dark horse: Damian Lillard wins it if Milwaukee wins 65+ games.
Kirk: Before Media Day, I would’ve said Jokic, but he came into camp heavy. It won’t matter by the time playoffs come around but I expect him to start slow. The first 20 and the last 20 games are massively important in how voters react to the season. The leads me back to Luka, who I’m hoping is ready. Maybe he won’t be able to sustain greatness for the whole NBA season, but I’m choosing to believe.
Gracie: I think this year is finally Luka’s year. He’s coming into the season in great shape and after the disappointing season the Mavericks had, the team is hungry and looking to bounce back. I think that how the World Cup ended for Slovenia will change Luka’s perspective on how he carries himself on the floor. With how the race has been Embiid vs Jokic for the past couple of seasons, it would be nice to see some new names emerge in the race this year. If the Mavericks can bounce back this season, then Luka will certainly be in the mix for the MVP.
Josh: This is tough, because Jokic feels like the easy answer after their dominant run to a title earlier this year, validating his status as the current best basketball player on the planet. The media like do-overs in their awards voting, so if Jokic has a similar season and the Nuggets are good again, it feels like it will be his award to lose. Why it’s tough is because there was so much major roster shifting in the last few days, so perhaps the Celtics or Bucks will finish with the league’s best record, opening the door for either Giannis or Tatum. I’ll stick with Jokic though — a lot of voters had egg on their faces after the 2023 playoffs, so they might just vote for Jokic out of shame.
Brent: While admittedly outside the scope of what is expected, it is fun to think about dark horse MVP candidates. What happens in OKC if Chet Holmgren comes back from injury and is able to contribute? Could Shai Gilgeous-Alexander guide the Thunder to a top-four spot in the West and garner some morsels of requisite narrative?