After one month, who is on top?
The 2022-2023 season started exactly one month ago in the NBA. The time has come to launch the MVP Race, to take the temperature and begin to determine who will be the first candidates to try to take away Nikola Jokic’s Three-Peat.
Six members of the editorial staff gave their top 5 for this first month and therefore we gave 5 points for each first place, 4 points for each second place and so on, to get a small summary.
We’ll start with honorable mentions for players who are on the cusp of the top 5 or in any case made a good enough start to the season for us to talk about them in this MVP discussion.
Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
With the difficulties within the franchise and the four kilometer long mouth that pulls Deandre Ayton during media day, we wondered if the Suns’ start to the season would be complicated. Finally, even without an awesome Chris Paul, the team is doing well. This is partly because Devin Booker still have step up, by offering nightly the cocktail of efficiency, precision and self-confidence that elevates Phoenix. The Suns are tied for second in the West right now.
His stats: 26.5 points, 5.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds at 47.7%.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City)
When a player single-handedly shoots down his franchise’s tanking plans because he’s strong, decisive and inspires others, it’s mandatory to mention it in the discussion for MVP. The Thunder are not far from a balance at the time of these lines, thanks to a stunning start to the season from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. JJ Redick found the perfect description for the Canadian: COLD AS FUCK. “SGA” is a drive and mid-range assassin, constantly giving the middle finger on the command to shoot in bulk at 3 points.
Shai is very devilish, capable of placing decisive shots, making the right decisions and, importantly, offering an elite level of defense. In Player Efficiency Rating, the former Clipper is third behind Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry, which still says a lot about his canon start. One more effort to push OKC into the right part of the rankings and he will have a great chance of entering the top 5 in our volume 2 next month.
His stats: 31.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2 steals, at 53.9%.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander panicked on counters without hitting a 3-pointer
Donovan Mitchell (Cleveland Cavaliers)
If the Cavs weren’t on a 5-game losing streak that cost them a few touchdowns, Donovan Mitchell wouldn’t have been far off the mark. “Spida” exceeded all expectations and immediately adapted to his new team with a very high level of performance in attack, leadership and, more surprisingly, real efforts in defense that should anger those who Jazz fans who have seen him in economy mode the past two seasons. …
Once Cleveland regains good momentum and confirms that the top 4 is plausible for them, Mitchell will once again be knocking on the door of the top 5 in this MVP Race.
His stats: 31.6 points, 6.1 assists, 4.7 rebounds on 51.3% (43% on 3 pts).
Joel Embiid (Philadelphia Sixers)
Inevitably, with his completely unreal game against Utah the other day (59 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 7 blocks), we tell ourselves he won’t last long in the mentions and kick a rival out of the top 5 very quickly … But if we look at the beginning of the season as a whole, with his absences due to illness and the Sixers’ sports difficulties, leaving Joel Embiid in the first places at the moment is not a scandal. Defensively, until his tour de force a few days ago, we saw him a little less impressive and we couldn’t find the impact he could have had last season.
Embiid clearly seems to be done joking and has begun his climb to the top to try, finally, to win the title of MVP.
His stats: 32.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4 assists on 53%
Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies)
Charles Barkley says Ja Morant has yet to make other people better. Chuck and I don’t really get along. Memphis is already in ambush and has some room for improvement, in the top 5 of the West. The players are doing a very good job, but it’s mainly because Morant is a leader and an exceptional player, not far from 50% skill, 30 point average and the highest coefficient of inspiration in a long time period. .
In the discussion for MVP, there are obviously individual and collective performances that come into play. But the visual impression and the excitement given by the presence of a player on the floor should not be dismissed. On this criterion, in addition to the others mentioned, Ja Morant is unquestionable.
His stats: 29.3 points, 6.8 assists, 6.2 rebounds at 48%
Joel Embiid’s incredible performance is summed up in numbers
5- Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) – 5 points
Don’t take it as an insult that the reigning two-time MVP is “only” fifth after one month in the NBA. This proves two things:
- The level in the NBA in 2022-2023 is such that averaging 20.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.9 assists on 60.6% while placing his team in the top 3 in the West is not enough to be ahead of four other people.
- Jokic is a foreigner. To still be at that level and believable for an impressive Three-Peat when the world is crying out for change and mental fatigue is inevitable is impressive.
Just watch the Nuggets’ games to understand that the Joker deliberately chose to score less this season to build the confidence of the two ghosts, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Presence on the floor is a guarantee of excellence. His tandem with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has the best net rating in the NBA since the start of the season and the Serb also offers something priceless: the certainty that we will see passes and otherworldly playmaking every night.
Passing three seems impossible, but we are talking about a completely unusual player.
Here, another crazy pass from Nikola Jokic
His stats: 20.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 8.9 assists at 60.6%