The 2023 NBA MVP award was one of the most hotly-contested in recent memory. Between Nikola Jokic’s quest to become the fourth player in league history to go back-to-back-to-back, Joel Embiid’s efforts to take the award home for the first time, and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s two-way excellence with an eye on winning the award for the first time since 2020, this year’s MVP race had a trio of deserving finalists.
Ultimately, as we learned on Tuesday night, the award is heading to Philly. As the Inside the NBA crew announced, Embiid has joined the pantheon of superstars to be named NBA MVP.
The 2022-23 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player is… Joel Embiid!#NBAAwards | #KiaMVP | @Kia pic.twitter.com/Ztj5HCzfuL
— NBA (@NBA) May 2, 2023
Embiid has the most productive season of his professional career. The Philadelphia 76ers’ star center led the NBA with 33.1 points per game and chipped in 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 blocks, and one steal in 34.6 minutes per game while shooting a career-best 54.8 percent from the field. Currently, Embiid and the Sixers are in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics. The team holds a 1-0 series lead, although Embiid was unable to play in Game 1 due to a knee injury.
Jokic put forth one of the most efficient seasons in NBA history, as he scored 24.5 points per game on a ridiculous 63.2 percent shooting from the field and 38.3 percent shooting from three. He narrowly missed averaging a triple-double, too, as Jokic went for 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists in 33.7 minutes per game. The Denver Nuggets are in the midst of playing the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals and have a 2-0 series lead.
Antetokounmpo was, as usual, a force for the Milwaukee Bucks on offense and defense. While he was limited to only 63 games in the regular season, Antetokounmpo averaged 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists in 32.1 minutes a night while playing some of the most ferocious defense in the NBA. Unfortunately for Antetokounmpo, he is the only MVP finalist who is no longer playing, as he was hampered by a back injury in the Bucks’ first round series against the Miami Heat, which Miami went on to win in five games.