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Early 2022-23 MVP Favorites

Since we have a good idea of what situations the league’s top stars will be positioned in, it's pretty clear who should be the MVP favourites heading into the 2022-23 NBA season.
Joel Embiid and Luka Doncic headline the early 2022-2023 MVP favourites list

Joel Embiid and Luka Doncic

While there are still a few dominos left to fall (looking at you, Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell), the NBA offseason is dragging to a close. Those last couple of Woj Bombs notwithstanding, we have a pretty clear picture of how the league will look for the 2022-23 season.

With that, we should have a good idea of what situations the league’s top stars will be positioned in, which makes the MVP race quite clear at this point. Let’s take a look at the early MVP favorites:

Luka Doncic - Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks’ superstar has been one of the NBA’s elite offensive players ever since he first stepped foot on an NBA court in 2018. In only 4 seasons, Doncic has 3 All-NBA selections, has improved his efficiency each year, and finished last season with a 28/9/9 stat line.

Quite a resume for a 23-year-old!

For a player that’s improved so much in such a short time, there is still another level he could go to if he gets in better shape. If early images and reports from his summer playing with Slovenia in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers hold true, then Doncic will come into this season in the best shape of his professional career.

All of this, plus the fact that he’s never won before -- voter fatigue is real and can derail some of his competitors -- has made Luka the favorite on all of the best sports betting apps, with FanDuel Sportsbook listing him at +460.

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Joel Embiid - Philadelphia 76ers

The Process has finished second in MVP voting in each of the last two seasons, behind Denver’s Nikola Jokic. Could this be the year he takes home the trophy?

Embiid is a proven two-way superstar who doubles as one of the best rim protectors and post scorers in the modern era. With a full season paired up with former MVP James Harden this year, the Sixers’ center should have more easy looks than he's ever had before.

The question with Embiid will always be health. He has been hurt or had a nagging injury in just about every postseason he’s ever participated in, and it’s a fair question as to whether he should rest more throughout the season to save some miles for the playoffs. An increase in load management would hurt his chances despite possibly increasing the Sixers’ championship outlook.

Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks

The Greek Freak came out of nowhere to become arguably the best player of his generation. The former Defensive Player of the Year, 2x MVP, and NBA Champion is a dominant force and should be a favorite for this award just about every season for the foreseeable future.

Winning the MVP twice relatively recently may hurt his chances a little bit, as very few players have won the award 3 times in 5 years – Lebron did it, winning 4 MVPs from 2009-2013. Giannis is capable of being called the best player in the NBA every season, but at this point, it’s more a question of whether MVP voters are tired of giving him the award.

Nikola Jokic - Denver Nuggets

The back-to-back, defending MVP is looking for a three-peat this season. After dragging the Nuggets to the playoffs without the help of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., the Serbian star proved some of the doubters from his first MVP season wrong.

With a jaw-dropping 27/14/8 stat line while shooting 58% from the field, it was a borderline heroic regular season from Jokic.

History is working against him, though, as only 3 players have ever won 3 straight MVPs – Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird. Not even Kareem, Jordan, or Lebron could do it! It seems unlikely that Jokic will join this list, but he’s been counted out before.

Kevin Durant - Brooklyn Nets (for now…)

The biggest question mark hanging over the season rounds out our list of MVP favorites. Durant won the award once in 2014. It’s hard to make an argument for or against Durant at the moment, given that we can’t say for sure what team he will be playing for this season.

The specter of his trade request hangs over the season like a rain cloud, but we know he has the talent to win MVP. However, given his unclear team status and his history of injuries over the past few seasons, I wouldn’t bank on Durant winning his second MVP at age 34.

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